After a failed spell at Sunderland which marked his second unsuccessful tenure in the Premier League, Jozy Altidore has plenty of doubters.
Speaking with the Toronto Sun, Jozy said that returning to Major League Soccer is clearly the best move for his career, and that nobody pushed him in this direction.
“There were a lot of options,” Altidore told The Sun’s Kurtis Larson. “People were saying I was forced to Toronto or something like that. I just thought at this point in my life it was something that I was ready to do. I was ready for the public opinion and backlash. The project they have here excited me the most.”
That project is one that Altidore says he wants to be the one to provide the spark. The club brought in Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe last year amid plenty of fanfare, but still missed the playoffs.
“The challenge of Toronto excited me,” Altidore said. “It was about the opportunity to turn around a club that, let’s face it, hasn’t had a lot of success since coming into the league. That whole project excited me.”
Altidore has a ton to prove. He missed much of the 2014 World Cup with an injury, and his club situation provided plenty of fodder for those who believe he can’t do the job abroad at the highest level. At 25 years old, the US international doesn’t think his goal tally is a fair barometer of his success, but is always something he will be judged on.
“Goals are a funny thing,” Altidore said. “It always depends how the team is performing. If we can get to a place where we’re playing the way we want to play I think the goals will flow.” They didn’t flow at Sunderland, or at Hull City before that. He struggled to score, and picked up two Premier League goals in 70 appearances. But now, he says, the level of MLS has risen high enough to be an enticing challenge.
“When I was with New York Red Bulls — at 16 years old — I was already one of the best players on the team,” Altidore said. “You look here [now], the level is different. The intensity of training is different. My first day of training with TFC I was surprised. Ask Michael. I keep telling him MLS is the best kept secret in the world.”