Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Toronto FC Gains Certainty with Acquisition of American Striker Altidore

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Toronto FC Gains Certainty with Acquisition of American Striker Altidore

Article excerpt

Toronto FC unveils American striker Altidore

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TORONTO - He might not have the sizzle of a Jermain Defoe but striker Jozy Altidore gives Toronto FC something the highly touted English star striker could not -- certainty.

Toronto FC unveiled Altidore, a New Jersey native, as its newest designated player Friday at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto acquired Altidore and cash considerations from Sunderland of England's Premier League, agreeing to transfer Defoe to the Black Cats just one year after obtaining him from Tottenham.

Altidore, 25, is no stranger to MLS. He played for the New York Red Bulls from 2006 to 2008 before being sold to Spain's Villarreal for a transfer fee of about US$10 million.

"It's a project in MLS," Toronto GM Tim Bezbatchenko said. "There's a lot of travel, there's a lot of games and you've got to be up for it.

"It's not like you're getting on a train and going down to the match at noon and getting back in your own bed at night. You've got to be willing, really willing, to take on this, it's almost like a crusade. In Jozy we're getting a player who knows all that, there's more certainty and so for us that's the most attractive thing about this deal."

Toronto FC manager Tim Vanney agreed.

"Jozy understands the challenges of Major League Soccer," he said. "He understands what this league is about.

"With that, we get some certainty with Jozy."

And unlike Defoe, Altidore will be playing soccer much closer to home, making it more likely he'll want to stay put.

"I am committed long-term to making this franchise something special," Altidore said. "I'm very excited to get started."

Altidore also received a hearty welcome Friday from Toronto Mayor John Tory.

"Welcome to Toronto JozyAltidore - Wishing you & torontofc success in 2015!" Tory tweeted.

Toronto pulled out all stops last year to lure Defoe, even enlisting Toronto Raptors global ambassador Drake to bend the England striker's ear. And when Defoe signed, Toronto FC trumpeted the move with a marketing campaign titled "It's A Bloody Big Deal."

A double-decker bus was parked outside the news conference where Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, touted the signing of what TFC billed as a "global football superstar."

Defoe, 32, began his Toronto career with a bang, scoring three goals in the club's first two games. But he also struggled with injuries as well as adjusting to life in the MLS, finishing with 11 goals in 19 games as Toronto FC (11-15-8) missed the playoffs for the eighth straight year.

Still, Bezbatchenko said Toronto FC's gamble to acquire Defoe was certainly worth it.

"We're not an organization that's afraid to think outside the box so we go out and we take risks," Bezbatchenko said. "Sometimes they work out, sometimes they don't but that's football at the highest level. …

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