Sebastian Giovinco has dominated the MLS since joining Toronto FC in January and was elected the league’s MVP on Wednesday.
Giovinco won the MVP voting by a landslide, getting roughly 87 percent of the club votes, 94 percent of the media votes, and 77 percent of the player votes.
The 28-year-old Italian looks to have made the perfect decision when he elected to sign with Toronto and leave Juventus and the Serie A behind. The tiny forward is listed at 5’ 4”, but became a perennial player at Juventus, only making seven league appearances during his final season in Turin.
It was looked as a big potential move for Toronto to get a player that has the track record of Giovinco despite his relatively young age. Giovinco is in his prime, and usually we see big name players on the wrong side of 30 go to the MLS. The Italian community in Toronto welcomed him with open arms, and he surely had a long list of dinner invitations if he would get homesick. Giovinco might not have been a household name for soccer fans in the United States when he joined Toronto, but followers of the Serie A knew very well that the “Atomic Ant” was capable of becoming a really good player.
His situation in Juventus wasn’t ideal, and he was dismissed by many because of his small stature, but there’s no doubt that he possesses some exceptional talent and a drive to be the best.
The impact of Giovinco was immediate, as he took the league by storm this season, finishing with 22 goals and 16 assists and setting a new record for combined points, beating Chris Wondolowski’s old record of 34 set back in 2012. His speed and finishing prowess has been a real game changer for Toronto, who made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Giovinco played extremely well with Toronto’s big center tank Jozy Altidore, as they complement each other to become one of the league’s best forward pairings.
“I’m very proud and honoured to receive the award for MLS MVP,” Giovinco told torontofc.ca after winning the award. “I am satisfied with my personal season but look forward to finishing on a more positive note next season for our team
“I’m very happy and proud to be in Toronto, as everyone can see from my performances on the field. I’m glad to have chosen this city as my new home. I really hope to stay here as long as possible and one day bring a MLS championship to Toronto and our fans.”
Many reports from Europe said that Giovinco had burned his chances with the Italian national team by moving to Canada and playing MLS, but his performances did not go unnoticed by Italian national team manager Antonio Conte, who has picked him for the last two Italian squads. Conte was the manager for Juventus between 2001-2004 and is very familiar with Giovinco’s qualities.
The financial aspect surely played a big part in Giovinco’s decision to join Toronto, as he’s one of the best paid players in the league together with Orlando SC’s Kaka and is the highest paid Italian soccer player in the world.
He could have gone to a smaller club in Europe and make less money, but he seized the opportunity to take on a different challenge and make a boatload of cash, something that most of us would love to do. He might not be the starter for Italy next summer for Euro 2016, but he definitely deserves a spot in the squad.
For Toronto FC and MLS, it’s a success story, and they will be hoping that other players of Giovinco’s calibre that are still under 30 year of age will follow and make the league even more competitive.