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Giovinco Watch #12

October 26, 2016

Toronto FC (3) Philadelphia (1)
Weather: Cloudy, Chilly Game time temperature 6C/ 43F
Attendance: 21,759

After 10 years of broken dreams, dreadful play and overall futility on and off the pitch, Toronto FC finally got the monkey off their backs. Last season they qualified for the MLS playoffs for the first time in their history. They were promptly blown out by Montreal 3-0. In the post-match press conference coach Greg Vanney said that last year the team was unprepared for the playoffs but made sure that for this match nothing would surprise them. With the help of the reigning MVP not only did they win but they dominated the match from start to finish.

TFC went with the 3-5-2 formation that has been so successful for them this season. The Reds managed the game from the get go setting the tempo against a scrappy Philadelphia team. The Union came out of the gate physical pressing man to man and using their size to outmuscle TFC. The Reds were not intimidated and fought back using their size but punishing Philadelphia with their star designated players. La Formica Atomica began his excellent night with a near miss at the far post in the 9th minute followed immediately by a free kick that grazed the side netting six minutes later. Giovinco got his first career MLS playoff goal after smashing home the loose ball after Jozy Altidore brilliantly kept the ball away from Union keeper Andre Blake. Giovinco continued with great interplay between himself and his teammates but TFC could only manage the single goal at the half.

In the second half, TFC’s midfield imposed itself and hit Philadelphia on the counter. In the 48th minute a corner was delivered by Giovinco and a mad scramble ensued before midfielder Jonathan Osorio deposited the ball in the net for a 2-0 lead. Oh ya, the Italian international also did this:

Philly would pull one back but the result was never in doubt. Altidore finished the match off after collecting a bouncing ball from a pass from Giovinco (who else?) in the 85th minute 3-1. Altidore celebrated emphatically with the ultras after the goal, this game was for them, long suffering but devout and for the entire city of Toronto.

After the match I was able to ask Giovinco about the upcoming match against his friend Andrea Pirlo and NYCFC, a much better side than Philadelphia. His reply, “It’s a different game because there are two legs home and away, and we have to prepare for them both. New York is a great team and it will be a difficult set of matches.” Indeed, NYCFC arguably have a stronger midfield and boast a talented striker themselves in David Villa. They are also tactically stronger than Philadelphia and will be TFC’s most difficult test to date. Earlier this week Giovinco stated he wanted the city to be his. Advancing further in the playoffs with performances like tonight will surely help that cause.

Giovinco’s Key Stats (via Opta)

Shots = 6
On target = 1
Goals = 1
Assists = 2
Touches = 63
Passes = 25
Passing accuracy = 68%

Giovinco’s match rating 7.5

TFC goes as far as Giovinco goes. The man of the match was Jozy Altidore but without service from the Atomic Ant he likely wouldn’t have won it. Giovinco’s opening goal kick started TFC’s first ever playoff victory and had a hand in the team’s other two goals. Dangerous on the counter or in the buildup of play Giovinco was everywhere. With 63 touches and 25 passes there is no one more important on the squad than him. A player who can turn a match on his own, it helped that the rest of his team was up to the task and maintained his level of intensity. He will be relied upon heavily for TFC’s MLS Cup push.

Giovinco’s Next Game:

Sunday, October 30 vs. New York City FC – BMO FIeld, TBA

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