TFC’s Jozy Alitdore suspended, will miss Montreal game

MLS-Jozy-Altidore-playing-Chicago-Fire

Toronto FC's Jozy Altidore. (Mark Blinch/CP)

Toronto FC will go into one of the biggest games of its season without one of its top scorers.

TFC forward Jozy Altidore was hit with an one-game ban by Major League Soccer’s disciplinary committee on Wednesday. As a result, the American forward will be unavailable for Saturday night’s home contest against the Montreal Impact.

A Toronto FC official confirmed to Sportsnet that the team is not allowed to appeal this suspension.

Altidore picked up a red card for a foul on New York City FC’s Alex Callens in the ninth minute during a 3-2 home loss on Aug. 12. A red card comes with an automatic one-game suspension, which Altidore served this past Saturday – he sat out TFC’s 1-1 road draw versus the San Jose Earthquakes.

But the disciplinary committee decided to tack on an extra game and an additional undisclosed fine for what it described as the TFC forward’s “violent conduct” in the match versus NYCFC.

This extra-game ban could not come at a worse time for Altidore, who has three goals in seven MLS games in an injury-plagued season, and especially for Toronto.

Montreal (10-13-3) currently holds down the sixth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, and sits three spots and nine points above Toronto (6-12-6) in the standings, although the Reds do have two games in hand.

Failing to earn three points against San Jose (the last-place team in MLS) has put even more pressure on TFC ahead of this weekend.

With only 10 games left in the season, the margin of error is slim – very slim – for the Reds, so Saturday’s showdown at BMO Field could be a make-or-break contest when it comes to Toronto’s playoff destiny. And it’s going to be that much more difficult for TFC without Altidore, who has 41 goals in 80 MLS games since joining Toronto in 2015.

“I don’t think we need to win 10 games to get into the playoffs but I still think the minimum number is probably seven that we have to win. There’s your margin, right there. It’s slim. Very slim,” coach Greg Vanney conceded earlier this week.

With Altidore out of commission for Saturday, look for Vanney to insert newcomer Lucas Janson into the starting line-up alongside fellow forward Sebastian Giovinco.

Acquired by TFC in the first week of August, Janson made his MLS debut in San Jose, starting for the Reds and scoring the side’s lone goal in the 59th minute off a setup from Giovinco and Gregory van der Wiel.

Janson, who turned 24 last week, put in a man-of-the-match performance for Toronto, as he effectively linked up in the attack with midfielders Marky Delgado and Jonathan Osorio before being subbed out in the 66th minute.

“I know he feels like he’s got more he can do … [but] I thought he stepped in and did a very solid job. You can see he’s a very smart player, he’s technically clean, he understands how to move himself around the field, and he obviously got himself into good goal scoring positions,” Vanney offered.

“He was trying to link up with players, and I thought that was all a positive start. I think it can only get better with a little bit more time.”

Last August, Altidore stoked the fires between the two teams before a game in Montreal when he talked about TFC potentially knocking the Impact out of playoff contention.

“It’s a great rivalry. [They’re] a good team, they have great fans. But I would love it if they missed the playoffs at our expense. That’d be beautiful,” Altidore admitted.

A year later, the shoe is on the other foot, with Montreal being able to deal a crushing blow to Toronto’s fading chances of qualifying for the post-season if it can win at BMO Field on Saturday night.

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