The Italian dynamo was at it again in the latest edition of the Canadian Classique on Saturday night, scoring the first two goals in the opening 22 minutes of Toronto FC’s 3-1 win over the Montreal Impact at BMO Field to seal three much-needed points for the home side.
Both strikes were classic Giovinco.
The second came from Giovinco drifting wide to initiate the attack with a pass to Jonathan Osorio near the goal-line, before surging into unoccupied space in the area to receive a return ball, patiently stepping away from panicked pressure to cut a neat right-footer past Bush to the near-side.
Heineken Rivalry Week or not, whenever Toronto and Montreal meet, Giovinco finds himself in the center of the action.
In 10 regular-season encounters, Giovinco has eight goals and an assist against the Impact.
As he did last season when fans in Montreal held up an emoji-laden banner aimed at Giovinco and his teammates, the Italian refused to lend any credence to the theory he relishes these games any more than the others.
“At this point, it doesn't matter if we play against Montreal or another team,” dismissed Giovinco. “We have to try to win.”
There is no arguing that Giovinco has been on a tear in recent weeks. He has either a goal or an assist in the last nine matches, scoring seven goals and adding five assists over that span.
And with three goals in the opening half-hour, TFC looked much more like the rampant attacking team that won the treble last season.
Greg Vanney points to changes in the team, rather than anything different about Giovinco's contributions.
“Whether it be Jozy [Altidore] the last few games or today Lucas [Janson], he's been able to establish a relationship,” Vanney said. “There's been another forward up there who has forced the center backs to have to work and made runs that made them question their ability to stay tight to Seba. So when he's pulled off or gotten into different spaces, he's been able to find space to operate and function.”
“When we're circulating the ball quickly and we're finding good spots, Seba gets the ball at the appropriate time and then he can start to make things happen. He's been in a good way over the last several weeks because of that,” Vanney added. “It's a collective thing; not a Seba thing. The group is getting the ball into the right places at the right time, making better movements for each other.”
On a hat trick as the frenetic pace slowed in the second half, Giovinco exited the match in the 73rd minute.
He did not start last weekend in San Jose, held out as a precaution with what Vanney described then as a sore groin. He was able to contribute from the bench in the 1-1 draw, setting up Janson's first goal for TFC and was then ready for kickoff against Montreal.
“He's definitely feeling something,” Vanney said. “I just don't know exactly what it was from, if it was from running or from the hit early in the game, maybe he caught something from behind. I'm not 100-percent sure.”