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Jozy Altidore calls out Toronto FC president Bill Manning in scathing postgame comments

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It was supposed to be a happy postgame. Toronto FC topped Minnesota United 4-3 in a wild game that saw Jozy Altidore assist the game-winning goal scored 79th minute, pushing them within a point of the Eastern Conference lead with a game in hand.

For Altidore, though, it was the perfect opportunity to air some dirty laundry.

The United States international sought out reporters in the mixed zone after the game and told the public how unhappy he was at certain decisions made at the club this offseason, particularly regarding the training staff. Altidore singled out team president Bill Manning and criticized the club executive for firing someone he believed was helping the striker off the field.

[ MORE: Toronto FC tops Minnesota United 4-3 ]

“It’s bittersweet because this could’ve been avoided,” Altidore said of the firing of Italian trainer Giuseppe Gueli who was let go after the sale of Sebastian Giovinco this offseason. “You’ll have to ask Bill Manning why it’s not avoided, it’s just disappointing. We had a trainer here the last three years who’s been helping me with muscle injuries, but because he was attached to Seba, he’s not allowed in the club, which I think is ridiculous. And so now this is what I’m faced with, games of egos, and that thing. Hopefully he can put his ego aside and I can get the guy who’s kept me healthy, kept Michael [Bradley] healthy, kept a bunch of the guys healthy, and we can make things move forward.”

“To run a club you’ve got to be able to put your ego aside and put the players first, so hopefully that’ll change,” Altidore said. “I was trying to get through it, I was having trouble all week, but again, like I said, the person I was working with the past three and a half, four years, is not allowed in the building, and it’s just— you give everything for your city, you give everything on the field, you give everything for your teammates, and because of a little whatever, misunderstanding with a guy, the players gotta pay the price. I just think that’s ridiculous.”

Altidore then went after Manning for his lack of accessibility for the players, as Altidore insinuated he made attempts to handle the issue internally but was unable to do so. “You can ask him,” Altidore said when asked if he received an explanation from Manning on the personnel decision. “He’s not here, he’s not around, so you can’t find him. You go to his office, he’s not there, he’s traveling, he’s this and that. I wish I knew, but I don’t know.”

As far as the public has been aware, Altidore and Manning have had a decent working relationship. Local media reported that a sit-down between the two in February helped push through a new contract for Altidore after talks had hit the skids. “I saw the hunger in his eyes and how much he loved it here,” Manning said of Altidore once the contract extension was announced. “And he was willing to work with us. And once we kind of talked that through, we were able to create a contract that made sense for us and made sense for him.”

After Altidore brought Michael Bradley into the mix by mentioning the Toronto FC captain by name, Bradley was asked about the situation, and he confirmed there were internal issues that needed to be taken care of but downplayed the severity of the issue. “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,” Bradley said, “and obviously Greg [Vanney], Jim Liston, Ali [Curtis], Bill [Manning], they’re all working hard to try to make sure that as players we have everything we need. Jozy is a guy who feels like at this point in his career he knows exactly what he needs to do day in and day out to keep himself healthy and fit and ready to play at the highest level. I’m hopeful there’s a solution here because I think a lot of us certainly feel strongly, again making sure that the staff behind the scenes is in place and is right.”

Obviously, this seems like – at its base level – a minor problem not to be aired in public, but Altidore is someone who has suffered from numerous muscle problems in the past, and if he is nervous about not receiving the proper medical attention off the field, it could be affecting his mindset or performance. Players who are tentative on the field because of past medical issues can either lose form or actually exacerbate the issue further, so it would be in Toronto’s best interest to cater to Altidore’s requests. At the very least, if a veteran leader is frustrated by a lack of communication from the front office, that in and of itself is a concern the club will want to address as soon as possible.

Toronto FC pulls within a point of East lead with win over Minnesota

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Toronto FC snatched all three points in a wild finish at BMO Field, taking the spoils 4-3 over Minnesota United thanks to a pair of goals each from Alejandro Pozuelo and Jordan Hamilton.

Minnesota struck first through Darwin Quintero in the 17th minute, but Toronto swung back in front on a quickfire double from Pozuelo, striking twice in two minutes right on the half-hour mark. His first was a beauty, carrying the ball all the way down the attacking half himself before a couple stepovers preempted a rifle into the top corner.

Two minutes later he found space in the box, and taking a feed from Justin Morrow, he powered the ball home above Vito Mannone. With that, Toronto went into the halftime break with the lead, and Pozuelo grabbed a club record for fastest brace with just 110 seconds between goals.

Out of the break, it was Minnesota’s turn to swing back into the lead as Angelo Rodriguez bagged a header to the far post as two Toronto defenders misjudged a cross from Romain Metanire. Quintero then hit for the second time in the 70th minute, this time from the spot after Chris Mavinga fouled Rodriguez in the area.

With wild status officially achieved and Minnesota ahead, Toronto snagged control of the match in front of the home fans. Hamilton, who came on in the 73rd minute, had an instant impact, scoring the equalizer just four minutes after entering play. Jonathan Osorio fed him a perfect through-ball between defenders, and Hamilton finished expertly with a chip over a charging Mannone. Hamilton gave Toronto the lead in the 79th minute, although this time the Minnesota defense will want to burn the tape. Jozy Altidore popped the ball over a defender right in front of the goal mouth, and while Michael Boxall had position to clear the ball off the line, Hamilton jumped it and tipped it into the back of the net.

After that, Minnesota melted down. Jan Gregus was shown a straight red card in the 89th minute, and Minnesota was reduced to nine men minutes later after Francisco Calvo earned his second yellow card. The win sent Toronto to second in the Eastern Conference on 13 points, one behind D.C. United for the lead with a game in hand.

MLS wrap: Three Things We Learned

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A busy day of Major League Soccer action saw comebacks, golazos, howlers and more. Here’s what we learned.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Soccer is Alive and Well in Minnesota

It’s a brand-new stadium of course, but a full house of almost 20,000 rowdy and pumped-up Minnesota United fans packed into Allianz Field to watch their team play New York City FC to a thrilling 3-3 draw. The game had a little bit of everything, with goals from Designated Player striker Angelo Rodriguez and Osvaldo Alonso (of all people) for Minnesota United, along with a howler of an own goal by NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

And yet, against the odds, NYCFC proved that it can fight back and picked up a much-needed point on the road. For a team that’s struggled to score this season and find someone to replace outgoing captain David Villa, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi scored his first two goals of the season, the second of which tied the game at 3-3 in the second half.

Regardless of the result, fans certainly got their money’s worth from attending, and there should be many exciting matches moving forward.

Barco Finally Shines for Atlanta

There was much hoopla and excitement surrounding Ezequiel Barco’s multi-million dollar transfer signing in 2018, but the Argentine youngster failed to back it up on the field.

After a year beset by injuries, poor form, and the standard time needed to adapt to a new culture, Barco may be ready for his chance to step into the spotlight. Barco’s brace, off the bench no less, helped Atlanta United on Saturday secure its first win of the season, in a 2-0 victory over the New England Revolution at Mercedes Benz Stadium. Tito Villalba set up both goals with marauding runs down the left wing, as Barco stabbed home the first shot and then curled home a beauty for his third goal of the season and his team’s second of the game.

Yes, it came against the now last-place New England Revolution, which continues to struggle mightily under Brad Friedel. But maybe this is a sign of things to come for Atlanta, which has also struggled this season and just won its first game, seven weeks into the season, after winning the title in December.

The Sounders Are Your MLS Cup Frontrunners (as of today)

Yes, I know, Los Angeles FC hasn’t lost a game all season and is on fire early this season. But no team is as deep in the attacking spaces of the field as the Seattle Sounders.

Who would have expected the Dancing Bear, Will Bruin, to score a brace as the Sounders won a thrilling 3-2 match over Toronto FC at CenturyLink Field. With the likes of Raul Ruidiaz, Nicolas Lodeiro and Jordan Morris, it was the combination of Brad Smith and Will Bruin, two players who aren’t often in the spotlight, who helped the Sounders pick up three points and remain unbeaten this season. The Sounders are three points behind LAFC but have a game in hand.

Why do I think they’re favorites to win the title? Vela could miss a month or more of action at the 2019 Gold Cup, and it’s unclear how anyone on LAFC’s bench can replace his productivity. Meanwhile, if Jordan Morris is away playing for the U.S., Bruin can step right in and keep scoring.

While the Smith-to-Bruin combination was fun to watch, there’s none better in MLS right now than that of Alejandro Pozuelo and Jozy Altidore. The two Designated Players are somehow already on the same wavelength and Pozuelo played two terrific passes that Altidore finished on Saturday. Expect many more goals between those two the rest of the season.

MLS preview: DCU host LAFC in possible MLS Cup preview

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Get ready for another busy weekend of MLS action, beginning Friday night…

[ MORE: Danny Rose breaks silence about facing racist abuse in Montenegro ]

D.C. United v. Los Angeles FC — Saturday, 3 p.m. ET

Based on four weeks of results, this could very well be a preview of MLS Cup 2019. A few numbers to paint a picture of early-season dominance:

  • No team in MLS has won more points than LAFC’s 13 (from five games)
  • No team in the Eastern Conference has won more than D.C. United’s 10 (from four games)
  • No team in MLS has conceded fewer goals than United’s one — one, singular
  • No team in MLS has scored more goals than LAFC’s 15
  • No player in MLS has scored more goals than Carlos Vela’s six, or assisted more than Vela’s three, thus no player in MLS has scored and assisted more goals than Vela’s nine
  • No player in MLS (other than Vela) has scored more goals than Wayne Rooney‘s four, or assisted more than Rooney’s three

Based on the above evidence, Vela and Rooney are clear frontrunners for the 2019 MVP award. At this moment in time, most would probably call their teams the frontrunners to lift MLS Cup on Nov. 10.

Vancouver Whitecaps v. LA Galaxy — Friday, 10 p.m. ET

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has vowed to play when the LA Galaxy visit stadiums with artificial playing surfaces in 2019, beginning with Friday’s trip to BC Place to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps. Despite missing more than three weeks of action due to an achilles issue last month, Ibrahimovic says he is fully fit and ready to go.

“I’m ready,” he said this week. “No consequences [from] my issue I had a couple of weeks ago. If I feel good, I will play.”

The big Swede missed just four games upon signing the Galaxy in 2018, two of which were played on artificial surfaces and one for a “suspension” for not playing in the All-Star Game, on turf. Despite missing two games during the injury, Ibrahimovic is off to a quick start with three goals scored in the two games he has played.

Toronto FC v. Chicago Fire — 3 p.m. ET

Toronto FC have, to the tune of three wins from their first three games, bounced back from a disastrous 2018 season which saw them miss the playoffs by 14 points. The Reds have gotten key contributions from the likes of Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, before the arrival — and stunning debut — of Alejandro Pozuelo.

With the Spaniard now in tow, a backline which was reduced to rubble last year back to full strength, Greg Vanney’s side has look downright dominant at times. Having scored no fewer than three goals in any game this season, the sky could be the limit once again as Pozuelo quickly acclimates to life in MLS offers his best impression of Sebastian Giovinco’s gaudy goal and assist numbers.

Full MLS schedule

Friday

Vancouver Whitecaps v. LA Galaxy — 10 p.m. ET

Saturday

New York City FC v. Montreal Impact — 1 p.m. ET
D.C. United v. Los Angeles FC — 3 p.m. ET
Toronto FC v. Chicago Fire — 3 p.m. ET
New York Red Bulls v. Minnesota United — 7 p.m. ET
Columbus Crew SC v. New England Revolution — 7:30 p.m. ET
Orlando City SC v. Colorado Rapids — 7:30 p.m. ET
Philadelphia Union v. FC Dallas — 7:30 p.m. ET
San Jose Earthquakes v. Portland Timbers — 8 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders v. Real Salt Lake — 10 p.m. ET

Sunday

FC Cincinnati v. Sporting Kansas City — 3 p.m. ET

New DP Pozuelo lights up scoreboard in Toronto FC blowout of NYCFC

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You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, a maxim totally fine by Alejandro Pozuelo.

The 27-year-old Spanish forward debuted with style for Toronto FC on Friday, setting up Jozy Altidore for an opening goal before scoring a panenka of the most chill order and then chipping Sean Johnson to double down on his rough treatment of the USMNT goalkeeper.

[ MORE: Rashford wants new Man Utd deal ]

TFC beat New York City FC 4-0 at BMO Field, with its $10 million man making a debut as spectacular as possible. Jay Chapman scored the Reds’ fourth goal, and Jonathan Osorio continued his fine form with two assists.

Following this assist to Altidore with a dribble and cut back, Pozuelo stepped to the spot to score his second coolest goal of the night.

So how was that second coolest?

Well, uh… because look at this chip.