Jozy Altidore is returning to MLS, but he's doing it north of the border. Toronto FC has agreed to a swap deal with Sunderland that will see the American join the MLS club, while Jermaine Defoe goes to the Black Cats, according to TSN. Sunderland will also send a "significant" amount of money to TFC.
For Altidore, the move has to be a huge relief. He desperately needed to get out of Sunderland, where he struggled and rarely played. His confidence was shot, his place in the team was diminishing and his career was suffering. Now he's going to a league where he knows he can succeed and will definitely play.
When rumors of Altidore's return to MLS started, the New York Red Bulls and Portland Timbers were also reportedly interested in him. But the Red Bulls weren't willing to meet Sunderland and Altidore's asking price, ruining the chance of him returning to the club where his career started, and the Timbers were reportedly pushed out because TFC had a higher place in the allocation order. It's still possible that MLS diverts Altidore to another team, but that's highly unlikely with TFC making the deal work by sending Defoe off and Altidore's high price tag.
The price to pry Altidore from Sunderland wasn't cheap. That made acquiring him tough on most teams, but Defoe has wanted out of TFC ever since his friend Ryan Nelsen was fired as manager and the Black Cats need some scoring help so the swap worked out well for both sides.
With Altidore in Toronto, he can work on finding his form again. We saw at the World Cup how dependent the United States is on him. As soon as he was hurt, the American attack stalled, and while there may be some young players that the U.S. are hoping comes good, that's still a hope. If Altidore can get some confidence and start bagging goals, the Americans will be so much better off.
Toronto will now be led by a pair of Americans in Michael Bradley and Altidore. They have still yet to make the playoffs in their history, but they are banking on this duo changing that. Jurgen Klinsmann may not like the rush of American rush into MLS, but if the likes of Bradley and Altidore can play well, lead a team and get into the playoffs where they're playing important matches, not to mention CONCACAF Champions League contests, it's tough to argue that the U.S. won't benefit from having players somewhere like Toronto.