With two World Cup 2018 qualifiers around the corner, U.S. national team strikers Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey both picked the right moment to get hot. Since MLS play resumed
after the All-Star Game three weeks ago, Altdore and Dempsey have scored nine goals between them for Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders, respectively, and both teams are undefeated.
Altidore was without a goal in 2016 until he scored in the 3-0 win over Columbus on July 31. Since then, he's scored or assisted in every game as Toronto FC has run its unbeaten streak to six games
(five wins and one tie) and moved to within a point of Eastern Conference leader New York City FC.
In his second start since returning from a hamstring injury that kept him out of the
Copa Centenario, Altidore scored the third goal just before halftime as TFC picked up one one of its most impressive wins of the season, 3-1 at Philadelphia.
TFC coach Greg Vanney
says Altidore adds more than just another scoring threat to go along with Sebastian Giovinco.
"He is also our target if we get out wide and we have to serve in front of the goal,"
said Vanney. "And I think he draws a lot of attention, which allows Sebastian to find that little bit of extra space on the field. And I think they are both doing a great job looking for each other
and combining with each other. He is massive and he is probably underrated in terms of the amount of defensive work that he gives us as a striker. He does a lot of work, he is responsible and he is
always looking for ways he can help out the team."
In the five games since the All-Star Game, Altidore and Giovinco have scored nine of Toronto's 12 goals and added five assists.
"I feel like we are getting back to it," said Altidore, "and Seba is a really great player."
Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC) G-A DATE: OPPONENT (RESULT) 1-0 7/31: Columbus (W 3-0) 0-1 8/3: Real Salt Lake (W 1-0) 1-0 8/6: New England (W 4-1) 1-0 8/14:
Houston (W 1-1) 1-0 8/20: Toronto FC (W 3-1)
Dempsey scored the first two goals for the Sounders in their 3-1 win over Portland that moved them to within two points of the sixth-place Timbers with two games in hand. He has scored five goals and
added one assist in the last four games as the Sounders have cut a 10-point deficit to two. In the first five months of the season, Dempsey had just three goals and one assist for the Sounders.
They have are 3-0-1 in the last four games, all since Coach Sigi Schmid was fired and Nicolas Lodeiro was acquired from Boca Juniors. The Uruguayan playmaker has one goal and four
assists in his first MLS game.
"It's back to everybody having fun," said Dempsey, whose eight goals against the Timbers are the most any Sounder has scored against another team. "I feel
like we're circulating the ball well. Everyone is getting good looks, not just one person."
The Sounders have started the same team for the last three games, but Dempsey says the Sounders
have the best depth in the four years he's been with the team.
"Nico has been huge for us," but everyone is playing well."
Dempsey (Seattle Sounders) G-A OPPONENT (RESULT) 0-0 7/31: LA Galaxy (T 1-1) 3-0 8/7: Orlando City (W 3-1) 0-1 8/14: Real Salt Lake (W
2-1) 2-0 8/21: Portland (3-1)