TORONTO – Sebastian Giovinco's production has been raising eyebrows this season, just not in the way one would expect.
Through five matches, the Italian forward, who tallied 39 goals and 31 assists through 61 regular season appearances over the past two years, has scored just once and is yet to collect an assist.
Reason for concern? Not for Toronto FC.
“He's an important player for us,” captain Michael Bradley said after training on Thursday. “It's not just about getting him more goals – there are plenty of days where he doesn't score – but his ability to impact things, help us play at a high level, and be dangerous, is very good. He's a forward, he wants to score, wants to help the team in that way. And there isn't any doubt that over the course of the season he will.
“In the short term, it's not about just getting him going with goals. It's about the team, making sure that every guy understands, within the bigger picture, what they need to do to help the team play well and be successful. When that comes, then forwards score goals and attacking midfielders get assists. That stuff all comes.”
Despite the lack of punch from Giovinco, the other two prongs of Toronto's attacking trident – Jozy Altidore and Victor Vazquez – have been solid this year. Altidore has three goals and two assists in six appearances, while Vazquez has a goal and three assists and has played a key role in the last five goals scored by the club.
The loss at Columbus Crew SC last weekend was the first of the season for Toronto, who are 1-1-4 on the year entering Friday's match against Chicago (7:30 pm ET; TSN 4/5 in Canada | MLS LIVE in the US). While Altidore and Vazquez have played well, head coach Greg Vanney thinks one of the reasons for TFC's early struggles has been an overall lack of sharpness in the attack.
“It's about efficiency in and around the box,” Vanney said. “Sharpness, timing; getting a guy in a split second earlier so he has a window to finish. In terms of getting into dangerous areas, we've done a good job of that over the last couple games. But we don't have enough yet to show for it.”
While things haven’t quite clicked yet, Vanney remains steadfast in his belief in his attacking charges.
“The relationship of the [front] three and the rest of the team will continue to get sharper," he said. "That's what the season is for; it happens over the course of the year.”
“Remembering exactly what it takes to win games in this league,” said Vanney. “Once we get that, we have every possibility of going on a long run, winning lots of games.”