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Altidore departure from Toronto and arrival in New England finally confirmed

TORONTO — After months in limbo with Toronto FC, star striker Jozy Altidore's move to the New England Revolution was finally confirmed Monday. The news came in rapid-fire fashion.
Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore (17) celebrates after scoring during second half MLS soccer action against Orlando City, in Toronto, Saturday, July 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Katsarov

TORONTO — After months in limbo with Toronto FC, star striker Jozy Altidore's move to the New England Revolution was finally confirmed Monday.

The news came in rapid-fire fashion.

One minute after TFC issued a statement saying it had bought out Altidore's contract, the Revolution announced it had signed the 32-year-old as a free agent.

The move had long been expected, with discussions on the buyout dragging out behind the scenes. There was sign of a breakthrough Friday when Altidore took to Instagram to say farewell to Toronto.

MLS clubs are allowed one off-season contract buyout that does not count against the salary cap. New England noted Toronto "will remain responsible for a portion" of Altidore's salary through 2023, which covers the term of his TFC contact.

Essentially the two teams will be sharing his cost the next two seasons, with Toronto paying what he was owed on his existing deal minus the portion of his New England salary.

New England has extended Altidore's deal an additional year, through the 2024 season.

The Revs host Toronto on July 30 with a rematch scheduled for BMO Field on Aug. 17.

With 79 goals in all competitions, Altidore ranks second in goal-scoring for Toronto. Only Sebastian Giovinco, with 83, has scored more in FC colours.

Many of Altidore's goals helped make TFC history.

But he managed just six goals over the last two seasons, in limited action due to injuries and a disagreement with the club. Those goals came at a price with Altidore's salary of US$3.6 million seventh on the MLS pay scale last season.

Things soured last season when Altidore spent some eight weeks on the outs with Toronto after a confrontation with then-coach Chris Armas when the striker was substituted in the 70th minute of a 1-0 loss to Orlando City on May 22. Altidore spent the time training on his own, away from the first team.

He returned in July after Armas was fired following a 1-8-2 start to the season.

Altidore, who earned some US$33 million in his seven seasons in Toronto, leaves more like a lamb than a lion after a soap opera-like ending to his TFC career.

The burly forward has not been at TFC's training camp.

Still Toronto president Bill Manning took the high road in announcing Altidore's departure.

"We want to thank Jozy for all of his contributions to Toronto FC over the last seven seasons," Manning said in a statement. "He scored some of the most important and memorable goals during the most successful period in our club history.

"We wish Jozy well in this next chapter of his career. His place in TFC history is secure and our fans will never forget the moments he produced."

Altidore's exit means TFC has an open designated player spot, which it needs with Italian star Lorenzo Insigne set to arrive in July once his contract with Napoli expires.

New England, which already has three DPs in Carles Gil, Adam Buksa and Gustavo Bou, is using targeted allocation money to sign Altidore. TAM can be used to sign a new player provided his salary and acquisition costs are more than the maximum salary budget charge, which was US$612,500 last season. The compensation ceiling for such eligible players was US$1,612,500 in 2021.

“We welcome Jozy Altidore to the New England Revolution," Bruce Arena, New England's sporting director and head coach, said in a statement. "Jozy is a player we know well and feel confident that he will be an excellent addition to our team.

"I believe Jozy can continue to be an outstanding goal-scorer, and we will work hard to get him back to full fitness and in good form over the next couple of months.”

Altidore joins former Toronto teammate Omar Gonzalez at the Revs. The 33-year-old defender signed as a free agent in December after three seasons in Toronto.

Altidore joined Toronto in January 2015 from England's Sunderland with English international forward Jermain Defoe going the other way. He made 173 appearances for TFC across all competitions.

Altidore has won 115 caps for the U.S. with 42 goals and 14 assists, working under Arena for part of his international career.

"I am excited to begin this next chapter with the Revolution and look forward to competing for trophies in New England," Altidore said in a statement. "I am grateful for this opportunity to reunite with Bruce Arena and look forward to getting to work with my teammates immediately."

Also on Monday, Toronto confirmed the departure of Brazilian fullback Auro Jr. on loan to Santos FC for the remainder of the 2022 with the Brazilian club having an option to purchase the contract.

The 26-year-old Auro made 109 appearances in all competitions over four seasons with Toronto.

The departure of Altidore and Auro means 17 members of Toronto's 2021 first-team roster have left the club in the wake of a dismal 6-18-10 season and the arrival of new coach Bob Bradley.


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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 14, 2022

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press