BLOG ITALIA
Sunday April 1 2018
Giovinco can rule a continent

Sebastian Giovinco leads Toronto FC through unchartered territory as they try to become the first MLS side in the FIFA Club World Cup, writes Marco D’Onofrio

Stunned and silenced.

The hostile crowd in Monterrey, Mexico simply couldn’t believe their eyes. The stories had been true after all.

The rest of the continent watched in amazement as the Atomic Ant put a perfectly placed free-kick in the top corner – hitting the inside of the post – on it’s way to the back of the net. It was the goal that ultimately sent Toronto FC through to the CONCACAF Champions League semi-finals and the moment when Sebastian Giovinco cemented his spot as the best in the region.

It wasn’t supposed to happen, though. Mexican teams don’t lose to Major League Soccer squads.

Since the tournament was re-branded as the CONCACAF Champions League in 2008, it has always been won by a team from Mexico’s Liga MX. In fact, there were only two occasions that it wasn’t even an all-Mexican final – in 2011 when Real Salt Lake reached the showdown and in 2015 when the Montreal Impact made it.

Tigres weren’t just any Mexican club either, they were the champions. They had every right to be confident ahead of their quarter-final match-up with Toronto. They boasted the likes of French international Andre-Pierre Gignac, former Napoli starlet Eduardo Vargas, Ecuadorian international Enner Valencia, and a plethora of Mexican stars likely headed to Russia this summer.

But on that intense night at El Volcan, an Italian reigned supreme.

Toronto FC proved themselves to be the greatest team MLS had ever known last season. Not only did they win the first ever Treble in league history – Canadian Championship, Supporters’ Shield, MLS Cup – but they did it while setting a record in the process for the most points earned during the regular season. Only a Genting casino promo code could have made it a more successful campaign. 

Never satisfied and with eyes wide open, the Reds bravely prepare for their next challenge.

Toronto must now take down another Mexican giant - two-time Champions League winners, Club America. The quest for history continues on Tuesday night at BMO Field when the Reds host the first leg of the semi-final, before heading to Mexico City a week later.

Both legs will present unique and interesting challenges with the current forecast for the first leg calling for snow at the stadium-by-the-lake in Toronto and the second leg being played at 7,200 feet above sea level at the site of the 1986 World Cup final – and where Diego Maradona’s famous ‘Hand of God’ took place – Estadio Azteca.  

For Giovinco who first won important individual MLS awards - the Landon Donovan MLS MVP, MLS Golden Boot – before claiming the biggest club prizes the league has to offer, there isn’t really a whole lot left to do.

Except lift the continent’s most prestigious trophy.

When Giovinco made the move across the pond in 2015, many in Europe were quick to criticize the decision and felt that it was the end of the line for the Italian. He was leaving the Peninsula’s champions to ply his trade in what many considered a sub-par league.  

But three years later, the diminutive striker finds himself just four games away from ruling an entire continent and doing it his way the whole time.

He’ll already go down in TFC folklore as one of the greatest ever, but supporters are foaming at the mouth in excitement for what’s to come. Could the dream of seeing the Canadian flag at the FIFA Club World Cup in 2018 actually become a reality?

Five years ago, even the most optimistic Toronto FC fan could never have envisioned their team reaching such heights. But a superhero can make the impossible look easy, and for the Atomic Ant that’s conquering CONCACAF.

Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports and get your first month free. £5.99 thereafter until September with promo code: ITALIA https://subscribe.premiersports.tv/

Have your say...
The treatment of Giovinco encapsulates all that has been wrong with the Italian game since the mid-2000s.

His unpopularity in Italy reflects the lack of belief in home-grown talent, as well as the continuing suspicion that the fantasista is too much of a luxury in the modern age.

This is perhaps the most glaring tactical mistake in calcio history.

These are the players that change games. And if the Atomic Ant had been given a chance, he would surely have lit up Europe just as he has the US
on the 22nd May, 2018 at 9:04pm
Run and gun players .... players that are not wanted in Italy is it any wonder why we
are out of the WC?? and is it any wonder why Juve struggles in Europe so much!
Gee what a mystery !!!!!!!
on the 6th April, 2018 at 4:29am
Giovinco became the highest paid Italian footballer in the world when he signed with TFC in 2015 at 7million USD per year. No one offers that kind of money for nothing. Thus far, he has delivered on his promise. Guess Italy doesn't like winners.
on the 5th April, 2018 at 3:56am
(2/2) Not making a case for Giovinco to be called up to Nazionale (though I think he's a quality player who could add a lot) because I believe Italy has enough young talent in Serie A to build a decent team.
It's not a coincidence that players like Immobile, Insigne, and Verratti are world beaters for their clubs but can't excel for the Azzurri. The national team system is in complete chaos. Judgment should be withheld on this generation of players until we see them in a functioning Nazionale.
on the 2nd April, 2018 at 7:58pm
As an Italo-Canadian, go TFC! Would be amazing to see a Canadian club in the Club World Cup against the best.

I have news for some people here. MLS might not be Serie A level, but it's not a farmer's league. Altidore scored 30ish goals in the Dutch Eridivse but hasn't replicated those numbers in MLS. Does that mean MLS>Eredivisie ? No, probably not, but they are similar level leagues with different qualities. MLS is physical and athletic, Eredivisie is technical and attacking.
(1/2)
on the 2nd April, 2018 at 7:53pm
He got pushed off the ball a lot when playing for Juve and Italy and his technical ability simply wasn't good enough to make up for his physical shortfalls. I'm happy he is doing well in MLS but he could have done alright playing for a top half finishing team in Europe, just wasn't good enough for the top teams.
on the 2nd April, 2018 at 4:00pm
Giovinco is a great attacking player plain and simple. He scored goals everywhere he played in Italy, but he was not in the plans for Juventus that is all. He was a high level youth prospect and represented Italy well at youth levels, including Under 21. US football is growing in stature and please do not put Seria A on a pedestal any longer, as the league is in terminal decline with the corrupt, inept and delusional FIGC. Giovinco merits a chance that is all for the Azzurri.
on the 2nd April, 2018 at 1:16am
Italy can indeed make plans to build for the future, by including Kean and Cutrone in the squads of 23 selected players. With them in the forwards group the most qualified and well known players are:

N.10 --- Insigne and Giovinco
N.9 --- Balotelli and Pelle'
on the 1st April, 2018 at 11:15pm
As for Giovinco playing for Italy. I seem 2 recall Italy struggling to overcome Norway in a EC qualifier before Conte threw on Giovinco n if I remember rightly he set up both goals for the 2-1 result which enabled Italy to qualify. Focus on youth by all means. Chiesa is my current fave atm but if Insigne, Verratti, Giovinco, Chiesa or Bernadeschi had been on with a mobile target man in the WC Q then the Swedes would've been like dancing on ice without any skates
on the 1st April, 2018 at 10:48pm
Not scored in over 360 minutes sorry! It just felt like 900!:)
on the 1st April, 2018 at 6:38pm
Giovinco has one goal in 23 caps for Italy..............
on the 1st April, 2018 at 6:07pm
T.O. IS RED AND WHITE!

TORONTO. WE LOVE YOU SO. WE SING FOR YOU NO MATTER RAIN OR SNOW!
on the 1st April, 2018 at 5:41pm
T.O. IS RED AND WHITE!
on the 1st April, 2018 at 5:40pm
Just keep that ant away from the Nazionale. You people are hilarious that you'd want a 32 year old MLS player who was cut by Juventus, to come save the nazionale.
on the 1st April, 2018 at 5:33pm
@luca
Your right it's not ×100 worse.... its x1000 worse. Get real man, even the worse leagues in Europe are more a better qualoty than MLS.
Giovinco should 100% be in the national team but he won't make a massive difference, ppl should not expect him to carry the kind of numbers from mLS to International level as it is simply beyond comparison!
on the 1st April, 2018 at 3:22pm
Kenzille you may have just stolen the 'stupid trophie' off of maldini heir with that comment!!!!
Balotelli is playing in france- not exactly a defensive master class, he failed in italy and in England (which is probably worse than france for defence)..
As for Giovinco great player but he isn't exactly challenged is he? You or i could go to mLS and lool great to be honest!
Keep Balotelli OUT!!!!
on the 1st April, 2018 at 3:02pm
@viktor. what has belotti and cutrone done in world of football. belotti has even got a 2nd season slump. cutrone gattuso didn't even think he was good enough to start against Juventus. giovinco was a much more talented youngster than all of them. at age 31 he still has so much to give. low centre of gravity allows him to take on his man and beat him. improve the teams set pieces. Italy needs to stop penalizing the fans. zzlatan would score those type of goals in any league. that is who he is
on the 1st April, 2018 at 2:58pm
The comments just prove the snobbery in Europe.. @Footballer Ibra didn't have 28 goals and 9 assists in all competitions last season for Man Utd?? Like 18 Serie A sides wouldn't LOVE to have him or Giovinco in their lineup??

Like GET real!! It may be time for the national team to focus on the future and younger players but Serie A fans need stop thinking MLS is 100x worse. It's not.
on the 1st April, 2018 at 12:30pm
No matter who plies their trade where or whatever their past histrionics off the field are I don't think Italy would have failed to score against Sweden in 180 minutes or failed to score in over 900 or whatever mins it was if Giovinco or Balotelli had been in the current squads! Then again. They'd have probably been warming the bench with Insigne anyway on that fateful night at San Siro. They could've played up top in that 3-5-2. Italy can't look down their noses at other leagues anymore!
on the 1st April, 2018 at 11:30am
@kenzille

Giovinco lololol... ANY player that plays in MLS wont get called up for the national, simple as that. The league is a joke.

You're kidding with belotti isnt better than Giovinco right? One is world class other one plays in a "soccer league" CMON
on the 1st April, 2018 at 10:34am
Italy must stop this madness thinking the likes of cutrone and belotti are better than giovinco and Balotelli. just stop it. stop penalizing this guy giovinco and get him back into the national team.
on the 1st April, 2018 at 8:00am
OMG when will you stop with this Giovinco obsession? Yesterday an almost retired Zlatan scored two goals, US football is noting, dont compare
on the 1st April, 2018 at 6:48am
Tuesday night is going to be wild! Can't wait.
on the 1st April, 2018 at 1:41am

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.