Toronto FC hopeful that Altidore impasse will soon come to a resolution

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It appears Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley, like most everyone else, is on the outside looking it when it comes to Jozy Altidore's impasse with the MLS club.

Bradley, whose finger is usually on the TFC pulse, had little by way of specifics to offer when asked about Altidore on Tuesday.

"It's not my place to talk about that situation," he said. "For a lot of different reasons. Mainly because I'm in the dark as well.

"Yes, Jozy's a good friend. We've been teammates for a long time. In this last stretch, he has not been around. And so how different discussions have gone between him and the club or his agent and the club, I genuinely have no information. I've not seen Jozy in a while. And so I don't know the direction that that is headed."

But GM Ali Curtis says communication between the two camps has increased and improved in recent days. They have been talking daily.

It sounds like it is working towards some form of resolution, one way or another.

"I'm hopeful and confident that we'll at least align on where things are going to stand more longer-term, in a more permanent way, soon," Curtis said Tuesday. "I don't want to put a specific day on it, because I think these things are fluid. But there is an open conversation that's occurring. We want to do what's best for everyone. We're trying to sort through that.

"It's taken a lot longer than I think everyone would have anticipated. But we have a line of communication that's happening and we're hopeful we're able to sort things out sooner rather than later."

Toronto's travelling party is slated to return home after Wednesday's game in New England. The club does not play again until July 17, allowing more time to resolve the matter. The secondary MLS transfer window opens Wednesday and runs through Aug. 5, opening another avenue of resolution.

Asked if Altidore, who has a home in Florida, is returning to Toronto, Curtis said: "It's part of the conversation."

"He's a TFC player. The entire club is planning to return to Toronto and return to train. So until that changes, we're trying to treat every player on the team with the same set of principles."

Altidore, second on TFC's all-time scoring list with 75 goals, has not played since May 22 when then-coach Chris Armas substituted him 70 minutes into a 1-0 loss to Orlando.

The club, in the form of Curtis and team president Bill Manning, has said little on the matter other than there was an incident and the matter is being handled internally.

"It was a situation that we didn't like," Curtis has said of the Orlando game.

Curtis has suggested there has been more at play than the one incident, saying "there's a lot of layers, there's a lot there.''

The 31-year-old Altidore, the sixth-highest paid player in the league this season at US$3.6 million according to the MLS Players Association, has been training on his own away from the Toronto first team since.

Bradley reiterated how important Altidore has been to the club in his seven seasons.

"He has come through on the biggest days and the biggest nights in this club's history," said the skipper. "What it all means going forward, I genuinely don't know.

"I'll repeat what I said the last time, which is I've shared some incredible moments both with TFC and the U.S. national team with Jozy. I care an incredible amount for him, for his family and I want the best for him, whatever that means."

At the same time, Bradley said he also wants the club to return to its winning ways.

"Whatever the solution is for both sides, whatever the discussions that have gone one, will continue to go on between Jozy and his agent and Bill and Ali, hopefully things can work out in way that everybody is in a position to be successful."

Altidore has not spoken publicly on his beef with the club. Not one to share with the media at the best of times, he has remained silent. Fellow TFC players, in the past, have complimented him for being a caring and generous teammate.

Toronto signed Altidore to a three-year contract extension in February 2019.

When healthy, which has not always been the case, Altidore can be a force on the field. His 75 goals are second only to former Italian star Sebastian Giovinco (83) in the club record book.

But this season he has appeared in just four league games, including two starts, with one goal in 189 minutes.

While the striker has spoken often about his affection for the club, city and its fans, he has butted heads with the front office in the past.

In January 2020, he criticized it over its handling of Bradley's ankle injury.

In April 2019, he accused Manning of putting his ego ahead of player welfare by banning a valued trainer because of his association with Giovinco. A deal was soon struck to bring the trainer back into the fold and Altidore apologized.

After the NBA and other teams elected not to play in late August last year in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, Altidore sat out TFC's game in Montreal for "personal reasons,'' according to then-coach Greg Vanney.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 6, 2021

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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