TORONTO – Sebastian Giovinco had been quiet for the past two months – too quiet for Toronto FC's fans.
His eight-game goal drought came to an explosive end on Saturday night, as the Reds dismantled DC United 4-1 at BMO Field. Giovinco scored three of those goals and all but set up the other, Marky Delgado's 29th-minute putback after Giovinco had hit the post.
“Yes, I'm back,” Giovinco said with a smile in TFC's dressing room. “I'm happy to have scored. We're still a little behind [in the standings], but it's a good start.
“Like I've said before, for a striker, scoring is always very important,” he added. “Not scoring for eight games is really difficult. I just tried to stay calm. We tried to stay together during that time, and hopefully this is going to push us forward.”
His teammates didn't give up on the man they call the Atomic Ant during the dry spell.
“What goalless drought?” goalkeeper Alex Bono asked jokingly. “He is back. We knew he never left. He’s been the same in training throughout.”
Giovinco's scoring burst ahead of this Thursday's 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star game against Arsenal FC could not have come at a better time for a TFC side desperate to rebound from their embarrassing 2-1 defeat to nine-man San Jose last weekend.
“Great goals, great performance by him,” coach Gregg Vanney said. “It's nice for his sake, it's off of his mind now, and it's obviously good for the team. Pleasant night.
“Through his celebrations and scoring, I think that [frustration] was lifted. What's important to him is that we win games – when he scores goals, that we turn those into three points.”
TFC did that on Saturday with an attacking mentality, led by Giovinco, that saw them take 20 shots and put 10 of them on frame.
“He played a lot freer, brought guys into the game,” Vanney said. “We weren't settling for shots from the outside. We talking about it this week: trying to get behind the back line, trying to get in the box more. As a team, we were doing that better.”
Giovinco was part of a formidable threesome in the final 20 minutes of play with the additions of a fit-again Jozy Altidore and the newly-signed Tosaint Ricketts.
The triad on everyone's mind, though, was the hat-trick he celebrated with mock golf swings.
“Tonight I celebrated with golf because this week I participated in a benefit tournament,” Giovinco explained. “And after scoring three goals, the golf possibly brought me the luck that I needed.”
And with those three goals, Giovinco now has found the net six times in four matches against United.
“It just happened. As a striker, [I'm] always trying to find goals,” he said with a grin. “Maybe [I'm] apologetic that it was against D.C. that I scored so many, but it has to be done.”