Toronto FC's Greg Vanney stunned after Sebastian Giovinco hat trick in "crazy, hectic" draw

Greg Vanney was – understandably – stunned after he watched Sebastian Giovinco and David Villa go toe to toe for 90 minutes at Yankee Stadium.

After all, the TFC head coach had just paid witness to one of the crazier games in MLS history, with his star player Giovinco recording the team’s first-ever hat trick in a frantic nine-minute stretch in the first half – tied for the third fastest to three goals in league history – all while Villa was nearly as spectacular on the other side, scoring two goals of his own in a thrilling 4-4 draw.

But that wasn’t all, head referee Ted Unkel issued a league-record four penalties – only two of which were converted.

“It was crazy, hectic and as unpredictable a game as I’ve been involved in, for sure,” Vanney said. “It was maybe one of the ones you could put up there in a shortlist of MLS games that have been crazy. It’s a very small field, bodies are close together, and there’s a lot of contact. If fouls are called easily, then this field is going to have a lot of fouls because people are so close together. Today, we dealt with a lot of set pieces, and in the end set pieces were a huge factor in the game.”

It could have been even crazier. Giovinco missed a penalty and had a shot off the post to deny him two more goals in the match.

“You see what he’s capable of doing on a day like today because he brought out a lot of skills and treats,” Vanney said. “But every game is different. Today, he showed what he’s capable of doing. This one has to go down as one of his best games for sure. He was excellent.”

Three weeks ago, in the two teams’ first meeting, Giovinco couldn’t get a foothold in a 2-0 NYCFC win. This time around, he was simply outstanding. Vanney explained that a change in New York’s formation, a 4-4-2 instead of a five-man midfield, gave Giovinco more space to move in. That, combined with stricter refereeing, allowed the Atomic Ant to thrive.

“There were four PKs, five PKs, whatever it was in this game? I don’t even remember, it was so crazy,” Vanney said. “There were so many PKs that when they happen, people start to get a little tentative to get in on a challenge. For Sebastian, that’s a good thing. He’s quick, shifty and can unbalance you, so if you can’t beat him up and the game opens up, he can show you what he’s capable of doing.”

Ultimately, it was Toronto FC’s defending that cost the visitors all three points. Despite Giovinco providing the goals and an assist for a late go-ahead goal for Marky Delgado in the 82nd minute, Toronto’s backline couldn’t hold off New York for the final 10 minutes of the match. And Patrick Mullins netted an 84th-minute header to equalize for the home team.

“We’ve got to support those four goals with less goals against,” Vanney said. ”From an attacking standpoint, I really don’t have a lot to complain about. I just think through some of our decisions in set pieces and things we gave up, it just has to be better.

“We’ve got to be able to see that game out.”

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