Like Alti­dore, TFC done with the small talk

Waterloo Region Record - - SPORTS - Neil Davidson

TORONTO — It ap­pears Toronto FC striker Jozy Alti­dore will do his talk­ing on the field Satur­day in the MLS Cup fi­nal.

The U.S. in­ter­na­tional cer­tainly had lit­tle to say Thurs­day at a news con­fer­ence.

Asked how his sore an­kle was, Alti­dore replied: “Yeah, I’ll play. It’s good.”

When an­other re­porter pressed him for de­tails, Alti­dore said: “It doesn’t mat­ter.”

Silence fol­lowed. “Next ques­tion,” of­fered the mod­er­a­tor.

An­other re­porter asked Alti­dore what it felt like to watch Seat­tle cel­e­brate last year’s Ma­jor League Soc­cer win at BMO Field and whether that feel­ing had lin­gered. The an­swer to the first half of the ques­tion seemed pretty ob­vi­ous but it elicited one of his longer re­sponses.

“It was not great, so it’s good that we have a chance to hope­fully re­verse that feel­ing on Satur­day,” Alti­dore said.

Alti­dore does not like talk­ing about him­self at the best of times. Putting him on a podium in front of a gag­gle of me­dia was like send­ing a tai­lor to a nud­ist colony. Who thought that was a good idea?

Per­haps it was no co­in­ci­dence that cap­tain Michael Bradley and coach Greg Van­ney, who shared the podium with Alti­dore, re­peat­edly re­ferred to Ma­jor League Soc­cer’s cham­pi­onship re­match with Seat­tle as be­ing “to­mor­row” in­stead of Satur­day.

The Cup fi­nal comes 34 days and four games af­ter Toronto kicked off its post-sea­son run Nov. 5. In the same time pe­riod in May, Toronto played nine games.

One senses Toronto is talked out. It has waited a year to get back to the fi­nal, lay­ing waste to the op­po­si­tion dur­ing a record-break­ing reg­u­lar sea­son. The play­offs have been more of a grind but Toronto, one kick from win­ning the cham­pi­onship in 2016, is back where it wants to be.

Re­demp­tion is just around the cor­ner. Like Alti­dore, TFC is done with the small talk.

Still, Bradley says he is not fu­elled by re­venge.

“It’s Seat­tle again. I think we’re ex­cited it’s Seat­tle, again,” he said.

“But, for me, the way I look at things, this is about our group of guys, our club, this city, the road that we have all taken to get here, what it meant af­ter the dis­ap­point­ment and heart­break of last year, to have to live each and ev­ery day this year know­ing that in the back of our minds this was all we wanted to give our­selves an­other crack,” he added.

“In my mind this is about us, this is about step­ping on the field Satur­day and go­ing for it.”

The weather con­tin­ues to be a topic of con­ver­sa­tion, al­though not one that is send­ing any­one to the phone yelling “Get me re­write.”

“It’s go­ing to be cold,” Bradley said with a slight smile. “It’s Toronto, right. It’s Toronto in De­cem­ber.”

Bradley said the team has not spent much time think­ing about it be­cause “ul­ti­mately it’s one of those things that gets filed away un­der things we have no con­trol over.”

Still, there were au­di­ble gasps from a few Toronto play­ers as they emerged for their morn­ing prac­tice in a bonechilling wind. “Oh my God,” was one player’s re­sponse. An­other looked like he wanted to turn right around and go back in­side.

The play­ers made the most of it, with guf­faws of laugh­ter ac­com­pa­ny­ing some form of re­lay race that was part of their warm-up. Alti­dore threw his body around at will, look­ing no worse for wear de­spite the rolled an­kle suf­fered in Game 2 of the East­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nal against Colum­bus.

En­vi­ron­ment Canada calls for a high of zero and “pe­ri­ods of snow.” With un­der­ground heat­ing, the snow should not be a prob­lem, but the cold takes its toll af­ter a while.

Tem­per­a­ture on the field at game time for last year’s cham­pi­onship game at BMO Field was mi­nus-2 C, the sec­ond-cold­est tem­per­a­ture read­ing for an MLS Cup fi­nal, ac­cord­ing to the league. The tem­per­a­ture at the 2013 fi­nal in Kansas City hov­ered around mi­nus-6 C at kick­off, mak­ing it the cold­est match since ’03 when the league first started record­ing game-time tem­per­a­tures.

“In the end you just hope that the game isn’t af­fected by the tem­per­a­ture,” said Bradley. “I think we all felt like at the end last year it was bit­ter, it was bit­ter and dry and it made for a dif­fi­cult night in a lot of ways.” If the fore­cast holds and Satur­day is closer to zero, and snow melt­ing on a heated field keeps the field slick, “I think con­di­tions ac­tu­ally set up for a good game,” he said.

FRANK GUNN, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Jozy Alti­dore tries to keep warm dur­ing a prac­tice in Toronto on Thurs­day.

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