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TFC’s Jozy Altidore not expected to be ready for first game of MLS is Back Tournament

Toronto FC kicks off on Sunday against D.C. United, and by all indications, they’ll likely be without their star striker.

Toronto FC v Seattle Sounders FC
APRIL 13: Jozy Altidore #17 of Toronto FC makes a move against Kim Kee-Hee #20 of Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field

TORONTO, Canada—When Toronto FC kicks off on Sunday vs. D.C. United, the Reds may be without 30-year-old Jozy Altidore.

Altidore recently re-joined his teammates at practice for the first time on July 3 after he was reportedly given permission early in the COVID-19 crisis to remain in his home state of Florida and train. On June 21, the 30-year-old striker touched back down in Toronto where he was subject to a 14-day quarantine per the requirements of the federal government.

With a July 10 kickoff date in mind, Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney felt it would’ve been a big ask for Altidore to be ready.

“We will make sure, with Jozy, we take the right steps and we prepare him and get him what he’s ready for when he’s ready for it,” Vanney told media on July 2. “With Jozy, we’re not playing a short game to take him down there and just try to win games and see what happens. We need him to get through the physical steps that everybody has taken so we can be as safe as possible both on the field and off the field.

“...I think it would be a lot to ask Jozy to be ready for the first game.”

Whether or not Toronto FC’s kickoff date being pushed back two days changes things, remains to be seen. As it stands, it’s also unclear if Altidore, who filled in as team captain with Michael Bradley sidelined, will be ready for the 401 Derby set for July 15.

But if we think back to earlier in the year, prior to the league shutting down play on Mar. 12, this should come as little surprise as both Vanney and team President Bill Manning threw around the word “load management” quite a bit when referring to Altidore and newly-signed designated player Pablo Piatti.

On Sunday morning, barring a dramatic change, we may see our first instance of the TFC version of “load management” in practice.

As for who’s going to replace Altidore in the lineup? My guess is Alejandro Pozuelo as a False 9 circa 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs. But we’ll see on Sunday!