TORONTO – There is something about New York City FC that brings the best out of Sebastian Giovinco.
The Italian’s first-ever MLS hat trick was against NYCFC back on July 12, 2015 in a thrilling 4-4 draw at Yankee Stadium. Giovinco also produced one of the most outstanding playoff performances in recent memory in the Eastern Conference semifinals, recording another three goals in the Bronx as Toronto FC cruised to a 5-o victory.
Giovinco’s brace on Sunday afternoon sparked TFC as it coasted past the visitors to win 4-0, but it was also the latest impressive display versus NYCFC. Toronto’s leading scorer now has nine goals against New York City, more than any other team in the league.
“I try to score in every game,” said Giovinco after the game. “It happened against New York, but for me, the team [I play against] doesn’t change anything for me.”
The first goal – a lovely curler from distance – finally broke down a stingy NYCFC defense that was holding firm until that moment of brilliance. Giovinco completed the brace off a free kick in the 67th minute, picking out the top corner to gather his 50th career regular-season goal in 78 appearances.
Goal No. 50 was not the only milestone for Giovinco on the night, at least according to his head coach.
“I think he now leads the league in the history for free-kick goals,” proclaimed Greg Vanney in his post-game press conference. “We’ve seen him do that a number of times. Fifty goals, it was obviously just a matter of time.”
Even the opposition praised Giovinco’s efforts on the day.
“I think when you give him space to express himself, he will hurt any team,” said NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira. “I think nobody has any doubt about his quality. But if you are not defending well, if you give him the space, he will hurt you.”
The second goal seemingly hurt NYCFC’s momentum and allowed the rest of BMO Field to exhale with relief. Unlike the previous match against the Colorado Rapids, Toronto managed to add to its lead.
With the match available to audiences nationwide in the United States and Canada, fans were able to witness Giovinco at his best, which has not often been the case this season. The 30-year-old dealt with niggling injuries in his heel and quadriceps earlier this year, which forced him to miss four matches.
Since returning from his last injury in May, Giovinco has notched the winner in the Canadian Championship final, scored a decisive goal against the New England Revolution and recorded braces versus Orlando City and NYCFC.
Giovinco now has 11 goals on the campaign, five behind Nemanja Nikolic of the Chicago Fire. But that is not the only area of his game that impresses his peers.
“What I like is that he’s becoming deadly in his finishing,” said Vanney. “You give him a look, you give him a window, he’s finding good spots and making things dangerous. Obviously he set up [Raheem Edwards] for his goal, so it’s just all things because Seba is not just a goal-scorer. He’s capable of setting guys up, he’s capable of scoring goals, and he’s kind of a little bit of that hybrid, even though he’ll be the first to tell you that he’s a goal-scorer first and foremost.”
Fifty goals in 78 games is an eye-raising ratio, but despite suffering injuries towards the end of the regular season last year and earlier in the spring, Giovinco is still on pace to leave his mark in MLS.
“I think when it’s all said and done, he’s going to be one of the guys that is going to have a lot of goals and a lot of assists,” said Vanney. “He’s a great player, maybe the best who has ever played in this league. I say yes, I know everybody wants to debate that, but I say the best-ever.”
The future is unknown, but at present, it appears Giovinco is returning to form.