Sunday night was a massive stage for Sebastian Giovinco to prove his worth and make a list-ditch case to Gian Piero Ventura.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium hosted Atlanta United vs Toronto FC in record-breaking fashion. The hosts managed to break their own attendance record as 71,874 spectators filled the new arena. Atlanta vs Toronto, for those not familiar with MLS, was a titanic showdown similar to a Juventus vs Milan clash. They are two of the best teams in the league and will likely again face each other in the playoffs. For a regular season finale, it was almost as if the cup itself as on the line.
As Italian strikers elsewhere continue to hit gold, such as Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne and Simone Zaza, Giovinco has always been on the outside looking in. For Antonio Conte, he was called up a few times to the Azzurri, but for Ventura, he’s never had a sniff.
“I’ve never heard from him, he’s never called me – not even once,” Giovinco said post match. “All I know is it would be a disaster for [Italy] to not go to the World Cup.”
Ventura’s selection stubbornness has drawn widespread criticism for neglecting to call in-form players all throughout his tenure, especially recently with Mario Balotelli and Jorginho. For Giovinco not to be considered, while harsh, isn’t much of a surprise.
However, on Sunday, Seba did manage to show something different and something that is currently lacking from the Italy setup – his freekicks.
In the 84th minute Giovinco buried an absolute stunner from about 25 yards out to tie the game. With the days of Andrea Pirlo firmly in the rearview mirror, nobody has yet to step up to take free kicks like il maestro did for the better part of the last decade. In the crucial playoff fixtures coming up in November against Sweden, this could be the only bargaining chip Giovinco has left at the table. While highly unlikely, a free kick specialist may be missing from Ventura’s list.
But, in all reality, let’s be honest. If we’ve learned anything from Ventura, it’s that his roster was probably already made over a month ago.
For Giovinco, it’s too little, too late. He will go down as a MLS icon and one of the highest paid Italian players of this generation – but by doing so, he traded away any tangible hope of an international career. It’s a shame, it’s cruel and he’s never gotten the respect perhaps he deserved. Sometimes, the beautiful doesn’t show its beauty to everybody.