U.S. forward Jozy Altidore says exit from Toronto FC would be 'bittersweet'
Jozy Altidore has hinted that his time with Toronto FC is nearing its conclusion, adding that the end, when that happens, will be "bittersweet."
With Altidore's contract expiring after the upcoming campaign, it's possible this season could be his last at BMO Field and Altidore did little to dispute that sentiment.
"It's been a terrific time, but at the end of the day, it's a business," Altidore said on the Max and Herc Podcast when asked about his future in Toronto. "When I say it's bittersweet it's because I've spent four years there. I kind of have roots put down there, my family enjoys it. It's bittersweet in the sense that you have to leave that and go on to something new, but that's the business.
"I'm excited for what's to come, and I've given everything to Toronto FC. I think it was mission complete in terms of going there and winning, which we set out to do. So I look forward to the next challenge. I'm not going to... there's no hard feelings."
Altidore was a cornerstone of the squad that won a domestic Treble in 2017, but he did suffer through an injury-hit campaign in 2018 that saw him make just 13 appearances. That has led to a sense that he will not re-sign with the club when his contract ends.
When asked if his time in Toronto was done, Altidore said: "It is what it is. At this point, I [wore] my heart on my sleeve every day when I go out to play there. I've done everything I could. Whatever happens, happens. I'm not bitter towards it. Like I said, it's been a fantastic time."
Altidore's future with the U.S. national team is up in the air as well. The team has a new coach in Gregg Berhalter and there is a general sense that a new generation of players needs to be brought in, though Altidore figures to play a role given the relative lack of experienced forward options.
"It depends on Gregg Berhalter. That's not my place to say," he said of his national team future. "Obviously, I love playing for the national team. If they need me, I would love to be there, but at the same time I'm a fan of the national team."
Altidore added that he feels there is a place for veterans on the team and acknowledged that there needs to be a renewed pride in wearing the U.S. jersey.
"I think it became more of [a] luxury for some players," he said about playing for the U.S. "I think we need to get back to that it's the crest, it's the shirt that's representing the country. I think everyone that comes to camp needs to understand that. Every time they step on the field, it's not about you. It's not about any individual. It's about the team and moving this whole thing along as a soccer nation.
"I think we have to get back to that, and I think Gregg recognizes that having been on the inside as a player and having seen some of the stuff that took place on the outside as a spectator. I think that's a very important piece of the whole puzzle, and I think Gregg is a guy that understands that and I'm sure will apply that."
Altidore and midfielder Michael Bradley took the bulk of the blame when the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, but Altidore says he can handle the criticism that comes his way.
"For me, the notion was always, 'If we win, it's in spite of you, and if we lose it's because of you,'" he said. "At the end of the day, I take it on the chin. If I need to be the punching bag, so be it. If that makes for a better tomorrow for the national team, then I'm all for it."
Altidore also hailed the recent move of Christian Pulisic to Premier League side Chelsea for a transfer fee of $73.1 million, and brushed aside suggestions that Pulisic only garnered that high a fee because he's American and the marketing opportunities that will result from playing for the Blues.
"I don't care what [the reason] is, I'm proud of him, I'm happy for him," he said. "I think there will be more like him in the future. I think he's the start of a great beginning when it comes to Americans going to Europe and making waves. He's also a product of the past in terms of other guys going there and making waves. Listen, I'm incredibly excited for him, I'm going to be rooting for him, and I think he's going to be a big success story.
"For me, I don't take anything away from him. I think his transfer fee is well deserved in terms of what he's been able to produce at his age, for the national team as well. There's always going to be naysayers, but I hope he goes out there and competes and keeps his head to the ground and not worry about the hoopla that goes around him."