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The Canadian Press

Bad news for Toronto FC: Altidore down and Soteldo sidelined by injury

Toronto FC need a win, not another injury or self-inflicted injury. But this week’s good news that Spain’s playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo is set to make his Columbus debut on Saturday (2-2-2) has been overshadowed by news that the club’s other two designated players have been sidelined for very different reasons. Toronto (1-3-2) confirmed Friday that Venezuelan international winger Yeferson Sotledo has a hamstring injury. The hope is that Soteldo will not be away for more than four to six weeks. With an international break looming after the weekend game, TFC won’t play again until June 19. The prognosis for star striker Jozy Altidore is bleaker. A source has confirmed an ESPN report that the US international has been asked by the club to train on his own outside of the first team. Officially, the club only said it was an internal matter which was being dealt with internally. Now based in Orlando, away from prying eyes, the team had probably hoped to stay that way. ESPN reported on Thursday that Altidore was ordered to train separately after facing coach Chris Armas following his 70th-minute substitution in last Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Orlando City. The source, who granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, actually said the decision was made after several incidents. Altidore is in his seventh season with Toronto, who signed him for a three-year contract extension in February 2019. He is expected to earn US $ 3.6 million this season, according to the MLS Players Association. While the forward has often spoken of his affection for Toronto and its fans, he has run into the club in the past. The two are apparently at an impasse. Toronto’s woes worsened on Friday when the Venezuelan Football Association, in a post on their official Twitter feed, revealed the injury of Soteldo, who has made four appearances since joining Brazil’s Santos FC on April 26. in a transfer of $ 6.5 million. General manager Ali Curtis said the injury was not confirmed until Thursday afternoon, adding that the club did not expect the Venezuelan federation to announce it. It was that kind of season for Toronto, which only stepped forward to back down. Pozuelo, the league’s reigning MVP, has been out since suffering a pre-season thigh injury. Toronto has won just two of 10 games (2-5-3) in all competitions without him this season. Armas says Pozuelo is in good health and will likely see some action, although he won’t predict how much. Both teams have had a bumpy climb so far this season. Armas says his team, which will play 25th overall at the weekend, had “very good times”. “But to win in our championship, we have to put it up for 90 minutes. And we haven’t. … We have to perform at the moment of truth,” he said. Columbus coach Caleb Porter is also looking to improve the defending champions. “The best teams, more than ever, it’s about execution,” he said. “The best teams don’t change a lot. They perform better than everyone else. So we want to find ourselves in a situation like last year where we perform better. And I think it’s coming. another big success. training week. “Looking at Toronto over the past two seasons, Armas says he can score and create” but there’s also a team that has given up a lot of goals in different ways. ” That includes this season, when Toronto’s back line has been violated too often, including on set pieces. Armas lamented the “soft targets”. TFC is currently tied for 23rd in the league in defense, conceding 1.67 goals per game. He’s tied for 15th on offense, scoring 1.17 goals per outing. Columbus is fifth in defense, dropping a game of 0.83 goals. But he’s struggled on offense this season, ranking tied for 23rd with a score of 0.83 goals per game. The crew have only scored five goals in six games, although four of those games have been on the road. Columbus star Lucas Zelarayan accounted for three of those goals, all from direct free kicks. Two of them took a 2-1 victory over New York City FC last Saturday, with the Argentine designated player claiming the winner in the fifth minute of the stoppage time. Zelarayan is only the sixth player in MLS history to score two direct free-kick goals in a single game. He is the 12th player to score three free kicks in a season (he also scored against DC United on May 8) and the first since Laurent Ciman, formerly of Toronto and Montreal, did so for Los Angeles FC in 2018. “You know when he steps up something special is going to happen,” Columbus goalkeeper Eloy Room said of Zelarayan. Sebastian Giovinco has the league record in one season with six direct free-kick goals in 2017 (the record book dates back to 2003, when Opta started tracking stats). The former TFC star is also No. 2 on the list with five in 2015. David Beckham ranks third, with four for the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2012. In all, Zelarayan has nine goals in 21 regular season appearances for Columbus, including four game winners. Toronto has had some success against Columbus in recent times. He’s undefeated in the last five meetings (3-4). 0-2) and only lost twice during of the last 12 league meetings (6-2-4). “We play a very good team,” Porter said. “They have a bit of back and forth like us too, but they’re a good team. They have very good players.” They got our number. They definitely got our number and I know our guys are eager to change that. “Still, the Crew have a 9-4-6 regular-season advantage at home, edging Toronto FC 36-28 at Historic Crew Stadium. And Columbus are undefeated at home in 11 appearances (9-0-2) in all competitions. Combined, a race that dates back to last October. Saturday marks the crew’s penultimate game at Historic Crew Stadium, Major League Soccer’s premier football stadium, and the curtain drops against Chicago Fire FC on June 19. “We want to take those two victories, end this stadium on a high note,” Porter said. Their future home, currently called New Crew Stadium, will open in July. Has 20,000 seats and a fan section. standing 3,356. The old stadium opened in 1999 at a cost of $ 28.5 million. The new venue is expected to cost some $ 315 million. Armas, who has played over 300 in both regular season and playoff games over 12 seasons with the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chicago Fire from 19 96 to 2007 has both good and bad memories of playing in Columbus. “Several evenings I was booed there as a player by their passionate fans and supporters, which was always cool,” Armas said. “But on many other nights I was with the US national team cheered on by maybe the same people.” Both sides have injury issues. Toronto forward Dom Dwyer is listed as absent while center-back Omar Gonzalez (thigh) and midfielder Jonathan Osorio are listed as questionable, all with thigh injuries, For Columbus, Kevin Molino (hamstrings) , Aidan Morris (knee) and Milton Valenzuela (thigh) are listed as out. Questionable subjects are Marlon Hairston (knee), Perry Kitchen (thigh), Derrick Etienne (thigh), Waylon Francis (thigh) and Artur (hip). Toronto’s two-game unbeaten streak ended with last week’s loss to Orlando. The crew’s victory over NYCFC’s win at Red Bull Arena ended a two-game losing streak. Saturday’s game will feature sections for fully vaccinated fans. In partnership with Columbus Public Health, the crew are providing COVID-19 vaccines to stadium supporters, although this does not allow same-day entry into the vaccinated sections. TORONTO FC (1-3-2) AT COLUMBUS CREW (2-2-2) Saturday, 3 p.m. ET at Historic Crew Stadium. LAST TIME: Toronto won 2-0 on May 12 at Orlando, with both goals from set pieces. BONDS THAT UNITE: Tim Bezbatchenko, President and CEO of Columbus, helped build the Toronto team that won the treble in 2017. Former Canadian international goaltender Pat Onstad is the team’s technical director and the vice president of soccer operations. Jaime McMillan (vice president of administration and football operations) and Corey Wray (deputy general manager) are also at the Columbus front office. Canadian midfielder Liam Fraser is on loan from TFC to Columbus, but is not eligible to play on Saturday. Center-back Josh Williams also played for TFC. — Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 28, 2021. Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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