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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Returning to Toronto FC lifted Jozy Altidore out of his 'darkest three days'

Jozy Altidore says returning to play for Toronto FC helped him overcome "the darkest three days" of his life after the United States failed to qualify for the World Cup.

Altidore was in the U.S. team last week that lost to Trinidad and Tobago, a result that ensure the Americans will not be playing in Russia next summer.

But he returned to his club on Sunday -- scored the winning goal over the rival Montreal Impact as the Reds matched the MLS record for points in a season with 68 -- and said simply spending time in Toronto lifted his spirits.

"It has been one of, if not the, toughest periods of my life. Definitely the darkest three days I've had," Altidore said of dealing with the U.S. defeat. "I didn't leave the house, I didn't do anything.

"But then I remember I'm in a special place. Quickly I'm reminded -- just going to get a coffee, seeing somebody in a TFC shirt, and them saying how much it means to them how well the team has done -- how special of a club I'm at, a city, and the opportunity that I have.

"I was lucky to somewhat bounce back, go out there and try to represent the city well, keep these fans happy. I thought we did that getting the three points."

Jozy Altidore returned to star for Toronto FC on Sunday.

Toronto, which celebrated its Supporters' Shield on Sunday, have one regular-season game left to break the all-time MLS points record that they matched against Montreal.

The LA Galaxy also earned 68 points from 32 games in 1998, though Toronto FC will play 34 games. In 1998, MLS still went to a shootout after a draw, and did not award any points if a team lost on penalties.

Toronto's goal difference of plus-37 is also second-best in MLS history to the '98 Galaxy's plus-41.

Toronto head coach Greg Vanney said he was glad that both Altidore and U.S. captain Michael Bradley were eager to get back to playing after their national-team disappointment.

"I greatly appreciate them being ready, saying, 'I want to go, I'm ready to go,'" Vanney said. "They gave us everything they had on the night. Jozy's commitment, he had some very good moments, some strong moments."

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