Toronto FC will have to make do without star forward Jozy Altidore for a little while longer.
The Major League Soccer club confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Altidore underwent successful foot surgery in New York earlier in the day to remove bone fragments, and that he is expected to be sidelined for the next four to six weeks.
Altidore, 28, sat out TFC’s last two MLS matches, and he limped off the pitch late in the second half of the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final against Chivas de Guadalajara on April 25 in Mexico.
Altidore has made 11 appearances in all competitions this season, with five goals and two assists.
The prolonged absence of the American international means Italian forward Sebastian Giovinco will be expected to carry the goal-scoring burden for the Reds for the time being. It will also likely mean more playing opportunities for Canadian forwards Tosaint Ricketts and Jordan Hamilton.
It’ll be interesting to see what formation TFC coach Greg Vanney uses during Altidore’s recovery from surgery.
Could Vanney deploy Giovinco as the lone striker in a 4-1-4-1 set-up like he did in last week’s 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Union? Could he deploy the Italian as a “False 9?” Could he push midfielder Victor Vazquez further up the pitch in support of Giovinco? Could he partner Giovonco with Ricketts or Hamilton, or somebody else?
Time will only tell what Vanney does, but he has to quickly figure it out. Toronto has just two wins and seven points from its first seven matches of the MLS campaign, and is slated to play seven games over the next month before the league takes a break for the FIFA World Cup.
Vanney and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko have long touted the team’s long bench. Losing Altidore, one of the league’s most dangerous goal scorers, will test TFC’s depth during a critical juncture in the season.
This is the latest injury blow to the reigning MLS Cup champions.
Veteran defender Drew Moor suffered a quad tear in the buildup to the second leg against Chivas, and he is expected to be sidelined for a couple of months.
Defender Chris Mavinga (lower body) and fullback Justin Morrow (calf) have missed a slew of games, both in MLS and CONCACAF, since picking up injuries in the second leg of TFC’s Champions League quarter-final against Mexican side Tigres on March 7. Both are close to coming back.
Defenders Eriq Zavaleta (quad muscle) and Nick Hagglund (hamstring) have also missed multiple games in recent weeks. But they practised with the team on Monday, and are making steady improvements.
TFC hosts the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday in a rematch of the last two MLS Cup finals. The Reds then play away to the New England Revolution on Saturday evening.