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Toronto FC

Keys to Jozy Altidore's MLS success

ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno sits down with Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore to discuss his move back to Major League Soccer, where he hopes to leave a legacy in Toronto.

Jozy Altidore's return stateside and to Major League Soccer has major implications for both his career and the league. Can the USMNT veteran and recent Premier League disappointment -- still just 25 years old -- regain his form and become a top goal scorer? And will he fit with Toronto FC and help lead the club to a first playoff appearance?

I sat down with him last month to talk about his move to Toronto, and when I mentioned the expectations placed upon him and the rest of his big-name teammates at TFC, Altidore was very much at ease, playful and engaging. He knows he has had many critics, but he's very much looking forward to the challenges ahead.

While a successful season for Altidore is expected, there are a few things that will need to happen to ensure consistent productivity from the U.S. international at TFC. Here's a look at the keys to Altidore's transition and his overall outlook for the 2015 MLS season.

Returning to a new-look MLS in a new role

One benefit for Altidore's move is that he's already played in MLS. He is a product of MLS, yet in his return he will find a different reality than the one he left behind in 2008 when he began his European career. In 2007, Altidore's last full season in MLS, the league had a 30-game season with a total of 13 teams. MLS now has a 34-game season with 20 teams and growing. The leading goal scorer in 2007 was Luciano Emilio with 20 goals, while last year Bradley Wright-Phillips led the way with 27. The numbers show that the environment in MLS is different, and among other things the season is longer and the expectation for a top striker is higher.

In his last MLS season Altidore was a teenager full of potential, but was merely a complementary piece in the New York Red Bulls attack (Colombian international Juan Pablo Angel was the main guy), whereas now he will be the primary attacking piece for TFC.

Altidore has shown that when he has been the featured striker, whether with the USMNT or at AZ Alkmaar, his confidence grows and so does his goal production. On the other hand, his struggles in Spain and the Premier League are well documented, and while I could analyze, dissect and probe the reasons behind his lack of performance, perhaps the explanation simply comes down to him not being able to consistently raise his game to the required level of competition. ...

10 MLS players set to break out in 2015

Now healthy, FC Dallas midfielder Mauro Diaz could very well lead MLS in assists in 2015.
Now healthy, FC Dallas midfielder Mauro Diaz could very well lead MLS in assists in 2015.

With a new collective bargaining agreement in place, Major League Soccer can look ahead to arguably the most promising season of its 20-year existence. Part of that excitement are the many emerging talents who are primed to break out this season, thrust into the spotlight because of an increased role within their team, or a fresh start with a new club.

Here is a list of 10 players who are ready to step up this season and thrive in bigger roles. Keep in mind that this is not a list for guys like Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy) or Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew), who have already earned acclaim as players who can consistently contribute within MLS. Instead, this list mixes a group of young players on the rise with more experienced players who are poised to have a significantly bigger presence in the 2015 campaign.

That said, here's a list of 10 players likely to break out in the 2015 MLS season, including analysis from ESPN FC's Taylor Twellman.

Mauro Diaz |  Midfield | Age: 23 | Team: FC Dallas | Country: Argentina

Diaz was one of the league's most productive attackers at the start of the 2014 MLS season, scoring three goals and ranking fourth in the league in attacking-half touches before suffering a knee injury at the end of April. In his absence, Dallas went on a seven-game winless streak, with just five goals and ranking in the bottom half of the league in chances created during the Argentinian midfielder's absence.

Diaz returned in July to lead Dallas to the MLS playoffs, and in 2015 he will be counted on to lead a speedy attack that features Fabian Castillo, Blas Perez and Tesho Akindele. The midfielder's vision and creativity in the attacking half will complement the team's speed, and a healthy Diaz is likely to contend for the MLS lead in assists in 2015.

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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Jozy Altidore says he wasn't forced into returning to MLS

Our experts weigh in on the motives behind a potential strike in the MLS.

U.S. striker Jozy Altidore says he had "options" to keep playing in Europe and was not forced to join Toronto FC during the winter transfer window last month.

After more than six seasons overseas, Altidore will return to Major League Soccer when the season begins next month.

With only one Premier League goal in a dismal 18 months with Sunderland, Altidore was unlikely to stay at the Stadium of Light, and had been linked to clubs inluding Lille in France and Bundesliga sides Werder Bremen and...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Toronto FC loan excess designated player Gilberto to Vasco da Gama

Gilberto will play in Brazil this season after scoring seven times in MLS last year.

Toronto FC have loaned designated player Gilberto to Vasco da Gama in Brazil, the MLS side announced on Friday.

With the additions of Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco this offseason, Toronto had four designated players -- one over the MLS limit -- and so needed to unload Gilberto, who signed before last season from Internacional.

The decision to move Gilberto was an easy one as the Brazilian stiker's $1.2 million salary was a fraction of of Toronto's other DPs. Altidore, Giovinco and Michael...

Michael Bradley appointed Toronto FC captain, replacing Steven Caldwell

Toronto FC will hope Michael Bradley can net a few more stunners this season like he did against Panama on Sunday.

Michael Bradley has been named as the new captain of Toronto FC, the MLS side has announced.

Bradley, 27, becomes the seventh player to wear the armband after taking over the role from defender Steven Caldwell, who remains at the club.

"I am extremely proud and excited," the U.S. international midfielder told the official MLS website.

"The first thing is to talk about Steven Caldwell and what a great player and leader he's been since I came to the club. Knowing him, he will continue to be that in...