Altidore shows selfless side on soccer pitch

TORONTO — Reporters who cover Toronto FC know the quickest way to turn off Jozy Altidore is to ask him about his own accomplishments.

But quiz him about a colleague or the team’s performance and the burly forward is happy to share.

The 27-year-old American international showed his selfless side on the field last time out in Orlando when a deft pass from playmaker Victor Vazquez put him in alone with only goalkeeper Joe Bendik to beat.

Just about every striker on the face of the planet would have taken the shot. But Altidore paused before slipping the ball to an onrushing Sebastian Giovinco to slot into the goal.

“I honestly never ever thought that he was going to square it back across to Sebastian,” said coach Greg Vanney. “Never crossed my mind.”

For Vanney, the unexpected play in Toronto’s 3-1 win is an example of Altidore’s commitment to his strike partner and the team.

French midfielder Benoit Cheyrou says Altidore’s altruism and work ethic when the other side has the ball do not go unnoticed.

“It’s a good example and we want to give even more on the pitch because of it,” he said.

His teammates aren’t the only ones to take notice of Altidore. On Tuesday, Chicago Fire coach Veljko Paunovic included him in his 11 additions to the MLS all-star squad that will take on European champion Real Madrid on Aug. 2 at Chicago’s Soldier Field.

Altidore will join Toronto captain Michael Bradley and Giovinco at the gala game. Both were voted onto the starting lineup by fans while Giovinco also won the EA Sports “More Than A Vote” challenge that carries with it an all-star berth.

Montreal’s Ignacio Piatti was also added to the roster Tuesday for the second straight year. The Argentine playmaker leads the Impact with eight goals along with three assists.

MLS commissioner Don Garber used his two picks to fill out the 24-man roster with Kellyn Acosta of FC Dallas and Dom Dwyer of Sporting Kansas City.

It’s the second all-star selection for Altidore (also 2015), who has also played in England, the Netherlands, Spain and Turkey. He has eight goals and five assists this season.

It’s Bradley’s third selection (2014, 2015). He also played in it as member of AS Roma in 2013. Giovinco, who has nine goals and four assists this season, has been chosen three times (2015, 2016).

Altidore and Bradley will both be missing Wednesday when Toronto (11-3-5) renews acquaintances with New York City FC (10-6-3) at Yankee Stadium.

Along with TFC fullback Justin Morrow, they are on U.S. national team duty at the Gold Cup. Tosaint Ricketts and Jonathan Osorio are with Canada while Armando Cooper is with Panama at the CONCACAF championship.

Fullback Steven Beitashour remains out after pancreas surgery while defender Nick Hagglund is regaining fitness after a lengthy spell out with a knee injury.

On the plus side, Raheem Edwards is back from Canada duty. Vanney says newly signed Liechtenstein international Nicolas Hasler could make his debut.

NYCFC is without the Gold Cup duo of Miguel Camargo (Panama) and Rodney Wallace (Costa Rica). Ronald Matarrita and Khiry Shelton are out injured.

Toronto, second in the East on goal difference behind Chicago, goes into the game with a five-point edge over third-place New York City FC.

It’s the first meeting between the two since the 2016 playoffs when Toronto thumped the New Yorkers 7-0 on aggregate in the Eastern Conference semifinals. That included a 5-0 whitewash at Yankee Stadium.

“Everything is bad,” NYCFC star David Villa said after the defeat.

Because of that, Toronto defender Eriq Zavaleta is expecting a motivated opponent Wednesday.

“Without a doubt,” he said. “Even though it’s last year, they’re going to remember it.”

“I can speak from personal experience to know that the players and the staff and the organization as a whole, they have a lot of pride,” added defender Jason Hernandez, who spent the last two seasons with NYCFC.

“They’re definitely going to have the last match burned in their memory and they’re going to do everything in their power to make sure that the outcome is different.”

NYCFC is 6-1-2 at home this season.

Apart from the playoff win, Toronto has never beaten New York CFC. TFC has lost twice and tied three times in regular-season play and is 0-1-2 at Yankee Stadium.

New York, which gets U.S. goalkeeper Sean Johnson back from the Gold Cup, is coming off a 3-2 loss July 5 in Vancouver that snapped a three-game win streak.

TFC has lost just one of its last six.

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