Toronto FC president downplays rift with Jozy Altidore over Italian trainer
Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore (17) recovers on the ground after being tackled during second half MLS soccer action against the Minnesota United in Toronto on Friday, April 19, 2019. Toronto FC president Bill Manning is downplaying a post-game outburst by Altidore, saying his star striker didn't have all the information concerning the absence of a valued trainer. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, April 22, 2019 3:14PM EDT
Toronto FC president Bill Manning has downplayed a post-game outburst by Jozy Altidore, saying his star striker didn't have all the information concerning the absence of a valued trainer.
Altidore left Toronto's 4-3 win over Minnesota in the 82nd minute Friday night, complaining of hamstring tightness. He laid into Manning after the game, saying the president's ego was hurting player welfare by banning trainer Giuseppe Gueli because of his affiliation with the now-departed Sebastian Giovinco.
On Monday, Manning met with Altidore and then talked to reporters on a conference call, saying Gueli was back in the fold. Manning said his only issue with the Italian trainer was that he wanted to formalize their relationship so he was available to all players and not just a few.
"Jozy didn't know that Giuseppe was going to be back," said Manning, who put the Altidore outburst down to emotions running high in the wake of his early exit.
Manning said Altidore was "happy and relieved" after their meeting.
"We're close, we're family," Manning said. "He's so important to the club. And his relationship and mine may actually become stronger through all this."
Manning also revealed that Altidore's injury was not serious.
"The MRI was very good. It's going to be two to three weeks (out) ... Certainly it's nothing long-term and I think that was his fear in the moment. Mentally he kind of went through a tough spot," said Manning.
"My job is to make sure that we get these guys the treatment and the tools they need to be at 100 per cent. And Giuseppe became part of that. The challenge was Jozy didn't know I was working on having him come back or I guess didn't know the immediacy that I was working on for having him here, so there was no lack of treatment."
Manning said he had met with the trainer on a recent scouting meeting in Italy and that Gueli would be back on a part-time basis, available to all players.
The rift, however short, looks bad on a club whose motto is "All for One." The 29-year-old Altidore may also not appreciate his team president comparing the incident to his son throwing a tantrum in the supermarket or a public place.
"You're a little embarrassed. You get him kind of alone and you scold him a bit. But you still love him," said Manning, continuing the analogy. "This morning when I met with Jozy I was frustrated that he came out as he did but I love the guy. And once he had the information in terms on what I was working on with Giuseppe, he felt at ease."
The Toronto players had a day off Monday so Altidore was not immediately available to reporters.
Gueli worked closely with Giovinco during his time with Toronto FC but also helped Altidore and Bradley, among others.
Manning said he notified Gueli in March that their past arrangement would not continue. But after meeting with Altidore and Bradley, he went back to Gueli to change their arrangement.
"Giuseppe was kind of on his own island a little bit and I said 'If we're going to doing this right going forward, I need you to be part of the staff, part of our team.' ... And he welcomed that," said Manning
Altidore was smoldering as he essentially lobbed a grenade into the Toronto dressing room after the Minnesota game. The U.S. international, who has a history of hamstring problems, said Friday's pain "could have been avoided" if Gueli was still there.
Altidore said he had been feeling the hamstring all week.
"Again, like I said, the person we've been working with the past 3 1/2, four years is not allowed in the building. You give everything on the field, you give everything for the city, you give everything for your teammates and because of a little whatever, misunderstanding with a guy, players got to pay the price. I just think that's ridiculous."
Team officials were clearly stunned by Altidore's outburst.
Bradley, who heard part of Altidore's comments, looked to defuse the situation when asked about it Friday.
"There's a lot going on behind the scenes in terms of trying to make sure that we can have the right medical staff in place," he said.
Toronto (4-1-1) hosts Portland (1-5-1) on Saturday.