TORONTO – You wouldn't like him when he's angry.
Hulk he is not, but Sebastian Giovinco has a way of making those who upset him pay when the time comes.
The Italian sensation has had a knack of coming up with big goals at the right time, whether his playoff-clinching goal last season against New York Red Bulls, his early opener this year against Philadelphia in the Knockout Round, or his impressive hat trick in the second leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinal against New York City FC.
Thus far, through four matches in the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs, he has four goals and three assists.
Though he picked up an assist against Montreal in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Championship on Jozy Altidore's crucial goal, there was no Toronto player more disappointed with the 3-2 defeat than Giovinco, who was also kept goalless in last season's playoff meeting with the Impact.
He cut a forlorn figure on the pitch. Clattered into in the opening minutes by Victor Cabrera, Giovinco went toe-to-toe with the defender. Being brought down by Hassoun Camara en route to goal, the defender losing a shoe in the process, only increased his bubbling displeasure.
Adding to the frustration he sent a clean look on goal woefully askew and then saw a late free kick that would have tied the match at 3-3 squirrel horribly wide.
Wednesday night's second leg (7 pm ET, FS1 | TSN1/3/4/5, RDS in Canada), however, offers a shot at erasing such unpleasantness from memory.
“[Giovinco] will give everything to make the outcome favorable for us, the club, and the city,” said TFC head coach Greg Vanney after training on Monday. “I would never bet against him. We'll wait and see.”
Montreal's tight defensive swarm and physical play limited Giovinco's chances in the first leg. The expectation is that more of the same awaits him in the second leg.
“He's keenly aware that they play physical, that space is limited, that he needs to be clever, to find appropriate spaces, and for us to find him in the right spaces,” explained Vanney. “He's very aware that they're physical, especially in dealing with him.”
That precious space within which to operate will again be at a premium.
“When you play with six defenders and three midfielders you must be a magician to find spaces,” smiled Giovinco. “This is part of soccer, the name of game. We as a team will do our best to find ways to win. That's the task. It doesn't really matter how or who scores.”
90 minutes and the Montreal Impact are all that stand in the way of a spot in the MLS Cup Final for TFC and Giovinco, an opportunity too good to pass.
“A large part [of destiny] is in our hands,” said Giovinco. “We will do our best to win.”