The sale of Adam Buksa may hurt the New England Revolution, but it's a moment the club has long been planning for.
Buksa was a hit after joining in 2020, scoring 31 goals and providing seven assists in 70 combined MLS regular-season and Playoff appearances - helping the Revs win the 2021 Supporters' Shield along the way.
Enter Jozy Altidore.
According to head coach Bruce Arena himself, the veteran striker was brought in for Toronto FC for the exact purpose of helping the Revs deal with the inevitable loss of Buksa.
"We were well aware in the beginning of the year that there was a likelihood of Adam [Buksa] moving on during the summer transfer window. That was one of the reasons Jozy [Altidore] came to New England," Arena revealed recently.
A 115-time United States international, Altidore has immense pedigree at this level after scoring 77 goals in 176 MLS regular-season appearances for the New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC prior to joining the Revs. For the latter, he was part of MLS Cup and Canadian Championship-winning sides, while Altidore also scored in the final of the 2018 Concacaf Champions League.
Though he is yet to take off for the Revs, Altidore has spent the early part of the 2022 campaign working up fitness and readying himself for action. After a series of cameo appearances, the 32-year-old played 45 minutes of New England's 1-1 draw with Orlando City on Wednesday and is ready for more.
“I’m feeling great, man. You know, I’m eager to get on the field more," Altidore told reporters after the match, adding: "You come to a new club, you want to get those minutes with the guys, especially a team like this. And I think definitely with the group we had out there, if I can get some more time, I think I’ll get some more chances and just get comfortable.
"But I thought I did okay. I tried to play within the game and had that one chance. I didn’t hit it great, but I think it’ll come with more minutes. So hopefully I can keep showing the [coaching] staff that I deserve to play and get some starting minutes.”
Though it'll undoubtedly offer him more chances out on the field, Altidore can't help but feel disappointed at Buksa's departure. Hardly surprising given the striker's quality and importance to the Revs, but Altidore understands that Buksa had 'wanted this for a long time'.
"It's bittersweet because as a striker you love playing and having strikers like that on your team. They just light a fire under you," Altidore said of Buksa, who was in attendance on Wednesday night.
He continued: "The training, the quality is higher. You know, everything's just better when you have good players around, right? So disappointing on that end.
"But on the other side of it, you know, talking to him these past six months, he really wanted this for a long time. So just really, really delighted for him that he got what he wanted. We're all cheering him on, maybe to watch him in France and speak a little French to him and wish him well. He's a great player, great kid.”
To date, Altidore has scored one goal in 392 minutes of MLS action for the Revs, who host Minnesota United on Sunday.