TORONTO – Grab your popcorn: It's Gio vs. Gio on Saturday in Toronto.
Two of the league's superstars – Sebastian Giovinco and Giovani Dos Santos – will duel for the first time when the Toronto FC host LA Galaxy at BMO Field in the MLS LIVE Game of the Week (7:30 pm ET; MLS LIVE).
Both are expected to feature, pitting last season's MVP against one of his top early competitors for this season's honors. That is not to say Giovinco has given up on repeating, where he would become the first to do so and just the second to collect the trophy twice, alongside Preki.
With a combined 14 goals and 10 assists so far this year, the likelihood of the duo's names on the score sheet when the dust clears is high.
Both players have five assists this year, while Giovinco leads with eight goals to Dos Santos' six. Dos Santos has achieved his tally in three fewer matches.
“He's a clever player, tough to manage,” TFC head coach Greg Vanney said of the Mexican international from training on Tuesday. “He pops up in different spaces, drifts between lines, out wide. He's always goal-oriented.
“Like all of these pocket-type players, we've got to make it hard for him to find space and manage his ability to do dangerous things.”
One could just as easily say the same thing about Giovinco.
The star quality of both players is undeniable, but whether the similarities stretch beyond that is a matter for debate.
“Absolutely [there are similarities],” said Toronto defender Drew Moor on Thursday. “They want the ball at their feet with time and space. [They only need] a little bit. Playing against Seba last year with Colorado, he destroyed us. We didn't give him a lot, but he didn't need it.”
“They're both very good attacking players,” said TFC defender Steven Beitashour. “Seba is world-class; Dos Santos... I haven't played against him yet. We'll see what he's capable of.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is one thing Toronto folk are certain of: Who should be topping the MVP discussion.
“Giovinco, 100 percent,” responded Moor. “He's got even more to offer; such a special player. He should be an early front-runner.”
“Too early to say right now,” couched goalkeeper Clint Irwin, adding,”until somebody proves differently, Sebastian's the MVP.”