Sebastian Giovinco insists emoji banner not source of crying celebration

MONTREAL – Sunday afternoon's 401 Derby fixture began with Montreal Impact fans taunting Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco with a series of banners that included a crying emoji.

By the time it ended, Giovinco's brace had given those supporters plenty to feel sorry about.

And despite a goal celebration that appeared to be a jab at said banner, he insisted afterward he had barely noticed.

“I don't think about these things, stupid things," insisted Giovinco. “I think only to play, to win, to score. This is my job.”

He sure could have fooled the Impact fans who howled with displeasure after he scored the opener on his MLS-record 12th career goal from a direct free kick in the 41st minute.

Blerim Dzemaili fouled Jozy Altidore in a dangerous spot to set up the chance. Giovinco stepped to the ball before whipping a right-footer over the wall and inside the left-post from some-24 yards, freezing Evan Bush, who could only watching helplessly as Toronto took the lead.

As he peeled away to celebrate, Giovinco first cupped his ears then gestured mock tears.

“No, no,” he said afterward when asked if the banner had been the inspiration for the celebration. “This was ... for me.”

Knowing the playmaker as well as anyone, Toronto coach Greg Vanney appeard he wasn't quite buying it.

“It took me a little while to figure out what it was. I'm not good at emoji speak,” said Vanney. “Evidently, [Giovinco] figured it out. Whenever Seba is motivated and he gets balls in good areas, he can make teams pay.” 

“[Banter] is part of the rivalry,” added Vanney. “Each team has their things they like to throw at each other. We'll take it if they want to keep going after him.”

Giovinco's second was as lovely as the first, arriving at the back-post to sweetly volley Steven Beitashour's cross through Bush's legs in the closing moments of the match.

While the goals were Giovinco's 14th and 15th of the season, putting him back in the conversation for Golden Boot, the free-kick was another milestone. As his fifth of the season, it equals the MLS single-season record [since records have been kept in 2003]. Three of his last six goals are from dead-ball situations.

“I train for this,” Giovinco said. “Sometimes they [go in], sometimes no. It is my quality.”

And players like Giovinco live for occasions such as Sunday's derby, the first of three in the final stretch of the 2017 regular season.

“For all of us, we enjoy playing in big games, big atmospheres, when the lights come on brightest. We have a group that relishes that,” said Michael Bradley. “Every chance we get to make a statement, send out a little message, we're going to do that."