Maybe absence does make the heart grow fonder.
Just after kickoff, the Atomic Ant was shown on the video board at BMO Field, sitting next to Toronto FC president Bill Manning. The crowd roared and Giovinco stood, put his hand over his heart and waved in appreciation.
Giovinco, who also took in the Toronto Raptors playoff game Saturday night at Scotiabank Arena, expressed a desire to stay with TFC, wanting to extend a Designated Player contract beyond 2019, the final year of his deal.
“It’s without hesitation that I can say that I wanted it to end differently,” Giovinco said in a late January statement, when it was announced he’d be leaving Toronto to join Al-Hilal FC in Saudi Arabia. “As I have always maintained, I was hoping to renew my contract and finish my playing career in a city that feels like home.”
“They may say I left for a more lucrative deal, but this is not the case,” he added. “Their offer and lack of transparency is a clear message. It seems management prefers to focus on things other than the pure desire to win.”
Giovinco had 68 goals in 114 regular season appearances over four seasons with the Reds, was a three-time MLS All-Star, won the MLS Golden Boot and Landon Donovan MLS MVP award in 2015 and helped guide Toronto FC to the 2017 MLS Cup title.