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Mailbag: No, Jozy Altidore is not suspended

On the striker’s status and more.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Toronto FC Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

One quick note to kick off this week’s Mailbag: for anyone who lives without my dull tweets, Jozy Altidore is not suspended for Toronto FC’s next game against the Montreal Impact.

Altidore was listed in the game notes on Saturday as one yellow card away from a ban and TSN promptly announced his punishment when he picked up a caution. It was his eighth of the season, which usually results in a one-match suspension.

But there is a ‘good behaviour incentive’ in the MLS rulebook which gives clubs the chance to wipe a yellow off a player’s total for the season when he goes five consecutive games without being booked. Altidore managed that - and so has Michael Bradley, who was also in the danger zone.

That’s good news, but it gets better: MLS has told TFC that both players are two yellows from a suspension, which would make them safe for the season (cards are wiped before the playoffs).

That makes sense for Bradley, who was on seven and had one taken away for good behaviour.

But I’m not sure how the league has got to that number for Altidore, who now has eight overall and has also had one five-game stretch without a yellow.

The only possibility I can think of is that Altidore’s seventh yellow, awarded in the win over the New England Revolution back in June, was rescinded (it was a terrible decision). That would mean Altidore had not been booked for 10 games going into the New York Red Bulls match rather than nine, creating two five-game clean runs.

There doesn’t seem to be any precedent for MLS correcting yellow cards, though, or anything in the rulebook about it, so that’s a long shot - especially as it’s still listed in Altidore’s game log on MLS’ website.

Anyway, that’s what I know about that. On to the questions - a few new ones and some picked out of the pile yet to be answered. We’ll be doing this most weeks, so feel free to shoot them to or tweet us anytime.

I’ll hand over to Michael Bradley on this one:

“What we’ve done [by winning the Supporters’ Shield is guaranteed that the last game we play this season will be in our stadium,” Bradley said. “I think every single one of us likes our chances of playing here in this stadium in front of our fans with our season on the line.”

There’s no chance Toronto would volunteer to give up their home advantage and play at a neutral venue.

With regards to the condition of the pitch, a few things to consider:

  • current forecasts suggest we won’t hit negative temperatures until later in December this year
  • the state of the playing surface will not be compromised by the Grey Cup
  • the indoor alternative would be the Rogers Centre, which has a turf field

It’s not something I can see even being considered.

I’m not particularly concerned about the Montreal or New England games, as I went over here and here.

The Red Bulls game was more interesting.

I felt slightly conflicted about their approach: I think I agree that pressing high, as they did, is the best way to try to play TFC (if you’re good enough to pull it off) because it can unsettle them, knock them out of their normal rhythm and create anxiety.

But the problem is that when Toronto do get through that first wave of pressure, there is then a lot of space left to exploit behind it. It wasn’t always pretty on Saturday, but the Reds still ended up scoring four goals and creating plenty of chances.

It’s also tough to do for 90 minutes, and Toronto are very, very good late in games.

I wouldn’t want to play the Red Bulls in the playoffs, though. They’ve been stretched by the schedule lately but when their best XI is on the pitch, they’ve got some really good players - Tyler Adams and Daniel Royer were particularly impressive at BMO - and know how to play on the front foot.

They can counter-attack, too; their first goal was a perfect sequence of economical touches, movement and decision-making from start to finish.

1. I wanted to write something about Delgado after he was somehow left off MLS’ 24 Under 24 list, but didn’t have the time.

The long and short of it was that too many people underrate players like him because they would rather see ‘difference makers’ in every position instead. It’s the same in North America as it is in England; we’d sooner cram two incompatible potential match-winners like Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard into same midfield than pick one and pair him with a grease guy who is much more likely to help the playmaker thrive.

Delgado has been the perfect complement to both Bradley and Victor Vazquez this year, but it’s a job that just does not catch the eye as much as Cristian Roldan’s in Seattle or Kellyn Acosta’s in Dallas.

As much as I hate to say it, a player like Marky may need to go and do what he does in a tougher league to really start turning heads. Maybe a few strong performances in the CONCACAF Champions League next year will help.

As for Bono? He’s got the potential to play for his country, but it’s a competitive field in goal.

Jesse Gonzalez, Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson and Ethan Horvath are all ahead of him in the pecking order right now and should still have plenty of football left in them in 2022. I’d be surprised if Bono isn’t in the picture by then, but it will probably be fighting it out for the second or third goalkeeping spot in the squad rather than starting.

2. Liam Fraser was talked about as a possibility for a first-team contract as early as the start of this season, so he’ll be in with a chance. He plays the Bradley role, so if Benoit Cheyrou retires you’d imagine he’ll get a good look in preseason.

Angelo Cavalluzzo could get a job in goal - as could either Mitchell Taintor or Brandon Aubrey in defence, though I’m not sure if I’d bet on those.

A wild card could be Ryan Telfer. He signed in March as a 23-year-old out of York University, which hardly screams ‘MLS future’. He’s played more minutes than anyone else on the roster, though, and has transitioned from forward to wing-back fairly well. Again, it’s far from a sure thing, but I imagine he’ll get the chance to audition for a depth, utility role during camp.

Fraser is the only one right now, in my view, who could (a) step up soon and (b) play a significant role in the longer term. There are a few others currently with II who have plenty of potential - Aidan Daniels and Julian Dunn, to name a couple - but they need more seasoning.

Multiple people asked: What’s the latest on Bryan Cristante, Ricardo Ferreira and Ballou Tabla?

You’ve probably seen the bad news by now: Cristante has been called up by Italy for their matches against Macedonia (Friday) and Albania (Monday).

The midfielder has scored three goals this season, and against strong opponents in Napoli, Everton and Juventus. That’s caught Giampiero Ventura’s attention, and I wonder if the Azzurri are aware of Canada’s aggressive pursuit of Cristante and want to get him locked down just to be on the safe side.

Even if Cristante doesn’t play in either match and is not cap-tied, though, this will set Canada back years in their pursuit of him. It’s clear Italy are his first choice and he’s not going to give up on that any time soon once he’s had a taste.

Nothing new to report on Ferreira or Tabla.

After much deliberation, I have finally reached a conclusion. I’m running out of battery here so I’ll have to be qui