Toronto’s Altidore will need a ‘miracle’ to play in MLS Cup

TORONTO (AP) — Toronto FC striker Jozy Altidore says it will take a “little bit of a miracle” for him to play in the MLS Cup in Seattle on Sunday against the Sounders.

“That’s where I am,” he said Monday. “And I’ve just got to try to keep trying to get myself there.”

Altidore is recovering from a quad strain that has kept him out of the MLS playoffs. Coach Greg Vanney isn’t fazed by Altidore’s assessment.

“I believe in miracles,” he said. “Just keep working and put your head down and go for it and we’ll see. It’s a big game. It’s going to take a lot to keep anybody out of it.”

This is the third championship meeting between Toronto and Seattle in the last four seasons. Seattle won in 2016 in a penalty shootout; Toronto won 2-0 in 2017.

While Altidore says he is feeling “better and better,” he declined to elaborate on how the injury is holding him back.

“You’d have to ask the medical team that stuff,” he said.

The U.S. international has not played since walking gingerly off the field in the 70th minute of Toronto’s 1-0 win over Columbus on Oct. 6 in the regular-season finale.

He did not dress for Toronto’s playoff wins over visiting D.C United (5-1 after extra time) and at New York City FC (2-1) and Atlanta United FC (2-1).

“With each game, we have optimism — more as we get farther and farther down the road,” Vanney said. “But we knew the first few were going to be really challenging.”

Vanney has pushed forward Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo in Altidore’s absence, flanked by Nicolas Benezet and Tsubasa Endoh.

Altidore had 11 goals and seven assists in 22 regular-season games this season. Pozuelo led the team with 12 goals and 12 assists in 30 games.

Altidore is frustrated by his recovery, but he insists the team is ready.

“The group is prepared,” he said.