TORONTO Italian striker Sebastian Giovinco, sold to Saudi Arabia club Al-Hilal FC on Wednesday, scored 83 goals (adding 64 assists) in 142 appearances for Toronto FC across all competitions.
Here is a look at some of the Atomic Ant’s most memorable moments in TFC colours:
1. Playoff-bound, Oct, 14, 2015
In the third-to-last game of the 2015 regular season, Giovinco booked Toronto’s first-ever trip to the post-season with a mesmerizing solo effort in a 2-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls at BMO Field. Taking a pass from Jonathan Osorio on the left side of midfield, Giovinco beat four Red Bulls _ leaving Sal Zizzo sprawled on the ground and Brazil’s Felipe rooted to the spot before befuddling Dax McCarthy and Ronald Zubar _ using one final jink to find space before lashing a left-footed shot from just inside the penalty box that beat Luis Robles. Giovinco whooped it up in front of the home fans, mimicking the Blue Jays’ “stir the pot” celebration.
2. MLS Cup final helpers Dec. 9, 2017
Giovinco had several scoring chances himself only to be denied by the acrobatics of Seattle ‘keeper Stefan Frei, a former TFC player. But he was involved in both goals on the night. The Italian, taking a ball just inside the Seattle half, split the Sounders defence with a through ball that put Jozy Altidore in alone. The U.S. international scored with a left-footed shot to put Toronto ahead 1-0 in the 67th minute. Giovinco’s no-look pass then put Armando Copper in alone in stoppage time. The Panamanian’s shot hit the goalpost but Victor Vazquez knocked it in to complete the 2-0 championship win at BMO Field.
3. Head out to the highway, March 6, 2016.
Giovinco had his troubles from the penalty spot but made no mistake in TFC’s 2016 season opener at the New York Red Bulls after Tsubasa Endoh was bundled down in the penalty box by Kemar Lawrence in the 82nd minute. The penalty was routine but Giovinco’s celebration _ when he mimicked kick-starting and revving a motorcycle _ was a classic. According to CalcioMercato.com, Giovinco had been visited in Toronto by Italian TV personalities Pio e Amedeo (Pio D’Antini and Amedeo Grieco) who suggested he try to “kick-start a Vespa” after scoring his first goal of 2016. Giovinco did just that _ and then set up Marky Delgado in stoppage time to secure the 2-0 win.
4. Free kick king.
Pick your poison, Giovinco scored 15 MLS goals directly from free kicks _ 14 in the regular season and one in the playoffs (a beauty against the Red Bulls in 2017). He collected six in 2017 alone, the most in a single season according to MLS records (compiled since 2003). He showed he could also be deadly from set pieces in the CONCACAF Champions League, scoring a beauty against Tigres UANL on March 13, 2018, in the second leg of the quarterfinal. Toronto had won the first leg at home 2-1. Giovinco’s 77th-minute free kick in Mexico gave TFC a 2-1 lead on the night and 4-2 aggregate advantage. Toronto ended up needing it as Tigres scored two late goals for a 3-2 win on the night. Still, TFC advanced on the away goals rules with the aggregate tied at 4-4.
5. The final score. Oct. 28, 2018
Toronto closed out a dismal 2018 season (10-18-6) against eventual champion Atlanta United, who arrived at BMO Field 36 points ahead of the 2017 MLS Cup winners. Giovinco scored the finale in a 4-1 upset win with a remarkable piece of skill. The unmarked Italian sprinted into the Atlanta penalty box to get to the end of a Jay Chapman cross. But the ball was blocked, forcing Chapman to re-control it and Giovinco to adjust his position. When the ball finally looped in, Giovinco _ moving to his right _ measured it and swung a leg as he fell to the ground, sending it past goalkeeper Brad Guzan. Giovinco, perhaps only too happy to put an end to a dismal season, did not celebrate the 88th-minute goal.