Jozy Altidore rips Toronto FC brass over banned trainer
|Toronto Star 20 Apr 2019 at 12:01|
Despite another win and show of offensive might from Toronto FC , cracks are beginning to show in the club’s newly remodelled facade.
In the absence of injured Drew Moor, Toronto’s defending was an adventure in a wild 4-3 win over Minnesota United at BMO Field on Friday night. And its All for One motto was tested in the aftermath when star striker Jozy Altidore accused team president Bill Manning of putting his ego ahead of player welfare, by banning a valued trainer because of his association with the now-departed Sebastian Giovinco.
Altidore had been all smiles when he signed a contract extension Feb. 28. But after exiting in the 82nd minute and complaining of hamstring tightness, he was smouldering as he essentially lobbed a grenade into the dressing room.
The American has a history of hamstring problems, but said Friday’s pain “could have been avoided” if trainer Giuseppe Gueli had not been sent packing.
“Which I think is ridiculous,” said Altidore. “So now this is what I’m faced with — games of egos … hopefully (Manning) can put his ego aside and I can get the guy that’s kept me healthy, kept Michael (Bradley) healthy, kept a bunch of the guys healthy and we can make things move forward.
“But to run a club, you’ve got to be able to put your ego aside and put the players first.”
Altidore said he had been feeling the hamstring all week.
“The person we’ve been working with the past 31/2, four years is not allowed in the building. You give everything on the field, you give everything for the city, you give everything for your teammates and because of a little, whatever, misunderstanding with a guy, players got to pay the price. I just think that’s ridiculous.”
Team officials said Manning had no immediate comment but were clearly stunned by Altidore’s outburst.
Bradley heard part of Altidore’s comments and tried to defuse the situation.
“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,” he said.
Manning, coach Greg Vanney, general manager Ali Curtis and director of sports science Jim Liston were all “working hard” trying to provide what’s needed, Bradley added. Then, while noting emotions ran high “good and bad” after the game, he stood up for his teammate.
“Jozy is a guy who feels like, at this point in his career, he knows exactly what he needs. 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 (about) making sure that the staff behind the scenes is in place and is right. And I think that, in time, it will absolutely get taken care of.”
Bradley is likely right, although a rift between a star striker and team president is nothing new. It’s somewhat ironic that the mercurial Giovinco, who always seemed to go his own way off the field, is still having an impact here while plying his trade in Saudi Arabia.
For Altidore — who usually despises talking for himself — to blow his top suggests a solution is needed pronto. It will take more than restoring a trainer to fix a defence that has yielded eight goals over the last three games, however. With Moor out, Chris Mavinga and Laurent Ciman haven’t filled the gap in the last line of defence. Ciman’s decision-making is questionable, while Mavinga has returned to the role of sometime rogue defender who believes athleticism will always work as a “Get out of jail” card. It hasn’t.
Lack of depth at right back behind Brazilian Auro has also hurt. And those in front of the defenders need to put their hands up, too.
Vanney, while praising his team’s spirit in fighting back on Friday, didn’t sugarcoat the problems: “Too many soft goals tonight … We’ve got to be better, from our backline to our individual defending.”