Ex-Sunderland misfit Jozy Altidore hailed for 'monster' Toronto debut

Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney was full of praise for his star striker's two-goal performance in Saturday's 2015 MLS season opener at the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Jozy Altidore marked his return to MLS with a brace in Toronto FC’s 3-1 win at the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, with head coach Greg Vanney telling MLSsoccer.com of his delight at the performance.

With just one goal in 42 Premier League appearances during his 18 months at Sunderland, the striker had become a figure of derision among fans before heading back to the States in a winter swap deal for the unsettled Jermain Defoe, but it took him just 90 minutes with Toronto to better that scoring record.

After Vancouver opened the scoring in the 19th-minute, the US international equalised with a debut goal in the 32nd-minute following a exquisite pass from fellow offseason signing Sebastian Giovinco, before strike-partner Robbie Findley gave the visitors the lead just before the hour.

TFC would go on to keep their tight lead until the final moments, when Altidore wrapped the game up with a cheeky panenka penalty after being brought down in the box to cap an excellent win on the road for his side.

Vanney was more than impressed with his star forward’s first showing for the Canadian outfit, and expects more of the same when his side visit Eastern Conference rivals the Columbus Crew this coming weekend.

“Jozy played like a monster out there,” the former defender said. “The ball he took down and how he took it down and protected it when he got brought down for a penalty kick was a world-class play.

“I think the people who were questioning Jozy probably got a real quick image, now, of what he is capable of and what they’re going to see a lot more of in this league.”

Altidore himself seems to be instilled with newfound confidence since heading back across the Atlantic, admitting that his audacious spot-kick wasn’t something he would ever have thought about attempting back at Sunderland.

“It was my first [panenka]” he told reporters after the match with a smile. “It’s a little bit easier when you’re up 2-1 and there is a little bit less risk. He ['Caps goalkeeper David Ousted] went to my side so I figured, if there’s ever a time, this was my time.”

And on whether he was worried about missing, the two-goal hero added: “Nah, come on man. I wasn’t worried about it. It was a spur of the moment thing.”

A rising star with the New York Red Bulls as a teenager, Altidore notched 16 goals in 41 regular-season games during his first MLS spell between 2006 and 2008, before sealing a league-record $10 million switch to Villarreal, and TFC will undoubtedly be expecting better numbers this time around.

In addition, if he produces alongside US teammate Michael Bradley and playmaker Sebastian Giovinco, then the club should be a shoe-in for their first-ever play-off appearance, and could even have a shot at the 2015 MLS Cup title.

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