TFC forward Altidore slams club president over trainer dispute

Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore. (Frank Gunn/CP)

TORONTO – Jozy Altidore is not happy.

Despite leading Toronto FC with five goals this season, the American forward has a bone to pick with club management, specifically club president Bill Manning.

Altidore tallied an assist on the game-winning goal on Friday night before being subbed out by coach Greg Vanney with hamstring tightness in the 82nd minute of TFC’s 4-3 come-from-behind victory over Minnesota United.

When speaking to reporters after the game, Altidore used the occasion to unequivocally blast Manning, explaining that the trainer associated with former teammate Sebastian Giovinco was let go by TFC when Giovinco was sold to a Saudi Arabian club in January.

Altidore accused the club of not allowing Italian trainer Giuseppe Gueli, who he claims was employed by TFC, in the team’s training facility to work with him or his teammates.

“We had a trainer here the last three years that’s been helping me avoid muscle injuries. But because he was attached to Seba, he’s not allowed in the club, which I think is ridiculous,” Altidore fumed.

“So now, this is what I’m faced with: Games of egos and [that sort] of thing. Hopefully, [Manning] can put his ego aside and I can get the guy that has kept me healthy, kept [captain] Michael [Bradley] healthy, kept a bunch of the guys healthy, and we can make things move forward. To run a club, you gotta be able to put your ego aside and put the players first. Hopefully, that will change.”

Altidore explained he experienced issues with his hamstring all week in training and did his best to fight his way through the discomfort during Friday’s match. It was clear, though, he felt he could have benefited from working with Gueli in the buildup to Friday’s match.

“You give everything on the field, you give everything for the city, you give everything for your teammates, and because of a little misunderstanding with a guy, players have to pay the price. I just think that’s ridiculous,” Altidore stated.

Asked if Manning has offered any explanation as to why TFC no longer employs Gueli, Altidore suggested reporters talk directly to Manning to get an answer to that question.

“You can ask him. He’s not here. He’s not around, so you can’t find him. You go to his office and he’s not there – he’s travelling, he’s this and that. I wish I knew, but I don’t know,” Altidore stated.

According to Altidore, Gueli worked one-on-one with him in training sessions during the past three seasons, and played a big role in helping him rebound from muscle problems or other injury issues.

“I just want to know why we can’t have that? Why we have to let certain things get in the way of our success as a group and as team? … For a vendetta or whatever it is, he’s not around. It’s just sad,” Altidore claimed.

Since coming to Toronto in 2015, Altidore has scored 65 goals and tallied 21 assists in all competitions. He played a starring role in TFC’s historic 2017 campaign when it won a treble of trophies – the MLS Cup, Canadian Championship and the Supporters’ Shield – and set the record for most points in a single MLS regular season.

He’s also been troubled by injury issues during his time in Toronto, but it didn’t prevent TFC from signing him to a new contract this past February.

Bradley told reporters he understood Altidore’s frustration, but he also believes the club will find a solution to this issue that will please the players.

“There’s a lot going on behind the scenes in terms of trying to make sure that we can have the right medical staff in place, and obviously Greg, [director of sports science] Jim Liston, Ali [Curtis, general manager], Bill, they’re all working hard to try to make sure that as players, we have everything we need,” Bradley offered.

“Jozy is a guy who feels like at this point in his career he knows exactly what he needs. He knows exactly what he needs to do day in and day out to keep himself healthy, fit and ready to play at the highest level. I’m hopeful that there is a solution here, because I think a lot of us certainly feel strongly that … the staff behind the scenes is in place and is right. I think that in time, it will absolutely get taken care of.

“Obviously after a game, there is emotion — good and bad. Big three points, obviously frustration to lose one of our best, most important players now for a little bit. So, I certainly understand his frustration and I’m with him, but I’m certainly hopeful that we can find — behind the scenes, internally — the right solution for everybody.”

Manning was at TFC’s game on Friday, but team officials told reporters he had no immediate response to Altidore’s comments.

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