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Giovinco Watch #17

April 8, 2017
Toronto FC (2) Atlanta United FC (2)
Weather: Clear  8C/ 46F
Attendance: 26, 812

Sebastian Giovinco and TFC were coming into their 5th match of the season undefeated with 1 win and 3 draws. On this night a home game against an expansion team was an expected win. It’s unfortunate that Atlanta United FC is no ordinary expansion team. Atlanta is coached by former Argentina gaffer Gerardo Martino who brought the albiceleste to the World Cup final and Copa America Finals. With many South American players, Atlanta played a nice, South American style and displayed great technical ability all match.  This was especially evident as they pressed TFC high and hit well on the counter attack. The expansion club also has a few Serie A connections. Former Atalanta midfielder Carlos Carmona (2010-17) was in the starting lineup while former Torino forward Jozef Martinez was out with an injury.

Giovinco was lively at the beginning of the match, he was everywhere on the pitch. In the 5′ La Formica Atomica blasted the ball over the net in the 18 yard box after his steal set up the initial cross. In the 10′ Giovinco failed to score on a patended free kick as it was shot wide of the far post. Atlanta displayed their excellent counterattack in the 15′ when a beautiful pass set up Hector Villaba on a strike that should have been saved by keeper Bono. TFC responded 5 minutes later on a beautiful tic-tac-toe play. Vazquez passed the ball into Altidore, and with a slick back heel pass sent Giovinco in all alone who slotted it home to make it 1-1.

At this point TFC was really pressing. Giovinco drove his way through the defense but Atlanta keeper Alec Kann made a great save. A great dummy from Beitashour on a Giovinco pass would have been a highlight reel goal if Jozy Altidore hadn’t blasted the bar over the net. Another solo effort by Giovinco was saved by Kann before a 44′ goal by Justin Morrow put TFC ahead. The low cross found the TFC midfielder and the Reds were flying high into halftime. The second half however started off poorly. A long ball from deep into Atlanta’s half somehow found Villaba who went five-hole on Bono to tie the game 2-2. Poor defending from Chris Mavinga led to the goal. Suffice to say the Frenchmen did not have a good game in his debut. Shortly after Victor Vazquez who has impressed all season was substituted for local boy Jonathan Osorio.

After the Spaniard was substituted  Giovinco played more back like a regista. He should have been playing more on the left flank to open up space to cross to Ricketts and Altidore in the middle. The Italian’s influence diminished as the game wore on. TFC lacked creativity in the final third and were missing that clinical finish that plagued them last season as well. Not even a dubious red card from Yamil Asad which left Atlanta with 10 men and without a coach as Martino was also kicked out, could do anything for TFC. The match ended in yet another draw. This pattern of drawing winnable games should be concerning for TFC fans. The Reds can be so much better and it would be best to take over the wide open Eastern Conference earlier rather than later.

Giovinco’s Key Moments

5′- Giovinco blasts the ball over the net from point blank range.

10′- Giovinco’s free kick is short and wide of the target, no trouble to the goalie

20′- Giovinco gets his first goal of the season from a beautiful back heel pass from Altidore. The Italian made no mistake.

24- Giovinco’s left footed strike is saved by Kann

36′- Giovinco dances his way through the defense but his chip is tipped over the bar by Kann.

40′- Giovinco’s low shot is fired well wide

86′- Giovinco’s nice cross splits the defense but Altidore just misses the connection

Giovinco’s Key Stats (via Opta)

Shots = 6
On target = 3
Take ons won: 3
Passes = 43
Passing accuracy = 82.3%

Giovinco’s match rating 6.0

Giovinco looked his liveliest this season in this match. He was all over the pitch in the first half, scoring his first goal of the season, winning the ball back and switching the play. He also had two great chances to double his goal tally, if not for Atlanta’s goalkeeper it could easily have been 3-1 Toronto. In the second half Giovinco’s influence was diminished as he was forced to play further back in the role of regista (deep lying midfielder). This is certainly a role that does not suit Giovinco. His frustrations have been more evident this season as he continues to complain to referees and linemen more-so than in the past. His performance in this match should spark him to score and create more in the games to come.

MVP Watch – League Stats:

Goals = 1
Assist = 0
Shots = 17
Shots on Goal = 8
Games remaining = 29

Giovinco’s Next Game:

Saturday, April 15 vs Columbus Crew 8:00 PM- Mapfre Stadium

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