Toronto FC was always going to be one of the main players in the race for the Supporters' Shield and Eastern Conference in Major League Soccer, but the club has elevated its status in those competitions lately with the reintroduction of Jozy Altidore to the starting XI.
The United States men's national team forward has been plagued by hamstring injuries at the worst times on the international level as he has missed parts of three major tournaments in the last three years. He also missed a good chunk of time for Toronto this season.
Since returning to the pitch as a substitute on July 23, the 26-year-old designated player has shown how much of an impact player he can be in the stretch run for the Reds.
Altidore has found the back of the net in five of his last six games, including one in each of his last four contests. All of that success is coming as he still works his way back to full fitness.
"It’s just getting the minutes and the legs under you," Altidore told reporters after Toronto's win on Saturday against Philadelphia. "I think cardio-wise I’m OK. It’s just getting the legs in the humidity and keeping them turning. ...
It's a great time to be a top scorer in Major League Soccer.
As the race for the Golden Boot heats up, some of the league's best in front of goal are stringing together terrific performances entering the stretch run of the regular season.
Few players have been as hot in the final third as Bradley Wright-Phillips has over the last month. Thanks to his goal-scoring prowess, the New York Red Bulls forward is the latest No. 1 in our weekly MLS Player Rankings.
Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, who have surged up the scoring charts of late, make their return to the list of the top 20 in-form players in MLS this week as well.
Our player rankings take into account the last four performances from a certain player, with the most recent one holding more stock.
Continue reading to see who joined some of the league's top strikers in our Week 24 edition of the Bleacher Report MLS Player Rankings. Begin Slideshow
The last three days of play in Major League Soccer produced a plethora of unexpected results that set up the league's playoff races for more drama than expected.
After wins by Seattle, Chicago, Columbus and Houston, the biggest gap between sixth and 10th place in the league is eight points between Portland and Houston in the Western Conference.
The Sounders stole the headlines for their victory over rival Portland to close out the weekend. The two sides meet in a week's time and another win could land Seattle a spot above the red line, which is something no one expected to see when Sigi Schmid was fired.
Chicago and Columbus also added intrigue to the Eastern Conference race. The Fire, who were already written off by many, are not out of the postseason race by any stretch of the imagination as they sit six points back of sixth-place D.C., while the once-struggling Crew are all of a sudden five points back.
All three of the biggest winners from Week 24 in MLS have a pair of players in our latest Bleacher Report MLS Team of the Week.
Continue reading to see who joined the likes of Clint Dempsey and David Accam in our best XI ...
Frank Lampard had to wait longer than expected to show off his talents in a New York City FC shirt.
But ever since moving back to full fitness, the 38-year-old midfielder has been one of the best players in Major League Soccer.
The former Chelsea and West Ham United man admitted his long injury break, which came with plenty of criticism that he was one of the worst signings in league history because of his inactivity, was frustrating to sit through because he wanted to please the fans of the second-year club.
“It was frustrating," Lampard told Bleacher Report. "I’m not the only player to get frustrated when being injured. It was tough and it was a difficult injury that probably wasn’t as well-documented out loud than what it was behind the scenes and I knew I was going to be out for a while.
"It didn’t come across, so it was probably frustrating that I couldn’t get out and do my thing on the pitch to show people what I could do. I just tried to keep a calm head so when I did get fully fit, I could help the team. I wouldn’t call it a relief to be back, it was ...
One of the best attacking duos in Major League Soccer features Sacha Kljestan and Bradley Wright-Phillips of the New York Red Bulls.
In recent weeks, the midfielder and forward have dazzled with their skills in the final third and climbed up the league goal and assist charts, respectively. Thanks to their recent displays for Jesse Marsch's side, both players are high up in the Bleacher Report MLS Player Rankings after Week 23.
Our player rankings take into account the last four performances, with the most recent carrying the most importance.
Continue reading to see which players landed where in our latest MLS Player Rankings. Begin Slideshow
Week 23 in Major League Soccer belonged to some of the top scorers in the league.
Bradley Wright-Phillips, David Villa and Dom Dwyer were among the players who found the back of the net on two occasions over the weekend.
In addition to a few big performances at the forward position, a good amount of midfielders also put their names on the scoreboard more than once.
Due to the plethora of solid attacking in Week 23, we set up our Bleacher Report MLS Team of the Week in a 3-4-3 formation.
Continue reading to see who else was named to our best XI from the weekend. Begin Slideshow
Real Salt Lake manager Jeff Cassar admits he uses the word "relentless" a lot when he speaks with his team.
Although the results have only started to show the relentless nature of the club, the Claret and Cobalt have stuck to their aggressive mindset for the entire Major League Soccer regular season.
Cassar uses the term because of how many different players in the RSL starting lineup can hurt opponents on a weekly basis.
“I use the word relentless a lot when speaking with the team, and you can only be relentless when you have depth and when you can start one way and bring players on to keep exactly what we’re trying to do at the beginning of the game and doing it at the end," Cassar told Bleacher Report.
That approach has been apparent over the last three matches as RSL beat Philadelphia on the road and produced a fine performance against Chicago at home in Week 22. Between those two victories, the club lost to Toronto FC at BMO Field in a midweek match, but despite the defeat, Cassar believes his side played well.
“I think for the most part of this year, we’ve been playing very good soccer," Cassar said. "We ...
All everyone wanted to talk about after Week 22 in Major League Soccer was the masterful display put on by Sebastian Giovinco at BMO Field on Saturday.
The same feeling has been echoed after countless other weekends since the Atomic Ant joined Toronto FC at the start of the 2015 regular season.
Outside of Giovinco, there were plenty of other star performances in our Bleacher Report MLS Player Rankings.
Our player rankings take into account the last four showings from individuals, with the most recent performance carrying most importance.
Continue reading to see who fell where behind Giovinco in the Bleacher Report MLS Player Rankings after Week 22.Begin Slideshow
The two hat-tricks scored in Major League Soccer in Week 22 carried different meanings for the clubs of Sebastian Giovinco and Clint Dempsey.
Giovinco's three-goal performance at BMO Field moved Toronto FC even closer to the top spot in the Eastern Conference, while Dempsey's breakout showing handed the Sounders hope that a late run at the postseason is possible.
Two of Dempsey's teammates also join him on the list of Week 22's best players because of their work moving forward.
To accommodate the two stellar forwards and one of Dempsey's teammates, we aligned our MLS Team of the Week in a 4-3-3 formation.
Continue reading to see who else joined the hat-trick heroes in the latest Bleacher Report MLS Team of the Week. Begin Slideshow
Take a bow, Sebastian Giovinco.
The reigning MLS MVP was at it again on Saturday night, scoring a hat-trick as his Toronto FC strolled to a 4-1 win over the New England Revolution at BMO Field.
The ex-Juventus man was almost unplayable throughout the evening, as Toronto moved to within a point of Eastern Conference leaders New York City FC.
Giovinco's first goal was a beauty, struck with the outside of his boot:
And his second wasn't too bad, either:
Teal Bunbury and Jozy Altidore rounded out the scoring after the Italian forward had added a third from the penalty spot:
Back-to-back MVP titles, anyone?
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