It's been a bit of a rough year for Jozy Altidore.
After being unable to find the back of the net for the first three months of the MLS season, the Toronto FC striker sustained a hamstring injury in May that forced him to miss out on the Copa America Centenario. To the pessimistic observer, it was a continuation of the downward spiral for a player who has appeared somewhat lost since leaving AZ Alkmaar in 2013.
However, since recently returning from injury, Altidore has contributed two goals and an assist across four substitute appearances. His first goal of 2016 was in a 3-0 win over the Columbus Crew on July 31st.
That's obviously a very lucky goal, but they all count, especially when one is looking to finally break through.
Last night, Altidore scored in the 93rd minute (on an assist from USMNT teammate Michael Bradley) to give Toronto a 4-1 lead over the New England Revolution.
Altidore's stoppage time goal was overshadowed by Sebastian Giovinco's hat trick, but that's fine for now. Some time away from the spotlight and the constant criticism can't hurt as he attempts to regain fitness and form.
As fellow Stars and Stripes FC writer Adam Snavely posted last week, Altidore is still an important part of the national team pool:
I’m sorry that Altidore will never see a Ballon d’Or shortlist, but let’s face some objective reality here. The third-leading scorer in the nation’s history is 26 years old, healthy again, and scoring goals in addition to doing the other things that make him such a valuable asset on the field very well. Yes, Dempsey and Wood played well this summer, and yes, I’d love to see Jordan Morris (or Rubio Rubin, or even Aron Johannsson should he ever get healthy again) crack the U.S. lineup again. But if you thought Jozy was on the outside looking in on this particular striker pool, look a little harder. He’s finding his way back once again.
A healthy, productive Altidore is always a good thing for the national team. While he's not quite "back", he's certainly on the way there. Will Jozy be on the roster for September's World Cup Qualifying matches against St. Vincent and the Grenadines (September 2nd) and Trinidad & Tobago (September 6th)? I guess we'll have to wait and see.