Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley faces a lengthy stint on the sidelines for up to four months after club GM Ali Curtis said he needs surgery for a "severe and complicated" injury.
The U.S. international suffered an ankle injury in the 2019 MLS Cup in November, in which Toronto lost to the Seattle Sounders.
Curtis said the 32-year-old Bradley will have surgery on Tuesday in New York, a procedure to be performed by Dr. Martin O'Malley of the Hospital for Special Surgery, adding that the surgery was "the last resort."
"We are going to be careful and cautious about this," Curtis said. "But we're confident that once he has the surgery that he'll be able to return to play. It'll take probably approximately four months. Now that could be shorter or it could be lengthier depending on how we manage that process."
The news came as a surprise to Bradley's club and country teammate Jozy Altidore, who said on Monday that the injury "was handled poorly."
"In my opinion, it was handled poorly," Altidore told reporters. "This is an injury from two months ago and it's not the first time this happened in terms of ... we've seen our injury rate at this club [climb] since '18, and we're obviously trying to get it better, but it hasn't. Two months have gone by and now he's having surgery and he'll be out until June.
"I don't think it's good enough. He's a guy that takes care of himself in an incredible way. Incredible professional, he pushes himself, the group, he holds everybody to a high standard and I think he was let down," Altidore added.
Toronto opened up preseason camp this weekend and will travel to Florida and California to train before opening the regular season on Feb. 29.
The injury timeframe would also rule out Bradley for the United States friendlies against Costa Rica on Feb. 1 and against the Netherlands and Wales in March. The USMNT will participate in the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League tournament in June.
A son of former U.S. and current LAFC coach Bob Bradley, Michael Bradley has 17 goals in 151 international appearances.
Toronto head coach Greg Vanney called the loss of Bradley a "big blow."
"For sure we'll miss him," said Vanney. "It'll be time for somebody else to step up and we'll have an opportunity to fill those shoes. As a group, we have to do it because I don't think it's just one guy who's going to fill it."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.