Toronto FC awaits Italy's decision on whether to take Giovinco to Euros - InfoNews

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Toronto FC awaits Italy's decision on whether to take Giovinco to Euros

FC Dallas' Walker Zimmerman and Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco, left, battle for the ball during first half MLS soccer action in Toronto on Saturday, May 7, 2016. After stumbling against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, Toronto FC looks to bounce back against New York City FC on Wednesday. With Jozy Altidore sidelined, Toronto's offence is focused squarely on the record-breaking Giovinco. And he too could be unavailable soon.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
May 17, 2016 - 2:30 PM

TORONTO - Another day, another record for Sebastian Giovinco.

Major League Soccer confirmed Tuesday that the Italian star's direct involvement in Toronto FC's 13 goals this season — he has scored eight and assisted on five — erased the league mark held by San Jose's Ronald Cerritos, who was involved in 12 consecutive goals in 1998.

Giovinco has actually been involved in Toronto's last 15 goals dating back to the end of last season but the league does not track such numbers over more than one year.

The Atomic Ant can add to his total Wednesday night when David Villa and New York City FC (4-3-4) visit Toronto (4-4-2). NYCFC has won its last three games and is unbeaten in four but may have some tired legs after a Sunday night game in Portland.

Toronto fans may want to enjoy Giovinco while they can, especially with strike partner Jozy Altidore out for six to eight weeks with a hamstring injury.

Italy is naming a revamped preliminary squad next Monday for the European Championship. Coach Antonio Conte announced a 28-man training camp squad this week but excluded players from clubs competing in cup finals: Manchester United, Anderlecht, Juventus, and AC Milan.

Toronto, with three games in a week, has been similarly occupied.

Does Toronto expect Italy to pick Giovinco?

"Certainly if I'm choosing the team I'm taking him," said captain Michael Bradley, who will join the U.S. squad for Copa America preparations likely after Saturday's game against Columbus.

Coach Greg Vanney says he has no advance intel.

"I don't really know what to expect," he said. "I think he's in great form and I think he's played very well and he's obviously a guy who can make a difference."

Vanney pointed to Giovinco's first goal in Saturday's 4-3 loss to Vancouver when the Italian controlled a marvellous 50-yard pass from Damien Perquis with the outside of his foot, pirouetted away from a defender and hammered home a left-footed shot.

"A world-class goal at any level," Vanney said.

"If he stays, then he obviously helps a great deal," he added. "If he goes then I think it's a great thing for him and for potentially things that he wants to accomplish. We wait and see."

Defender Josh Williams was a little more selfish when asked what the team will be thinking in the buildup to the Italian announcement.

"Don't take Seba is what's going to be going through my mind," he said with a laugh. "No, you always want the best for your teammates. If he's called up, we're all going to be happy. But he means so much to this team that we always want to have him around and causing trouble for other teams."

Vanney and his staff knew they could be without Giovinco and Altidore this summer. The league is taking a 10-day break to soften the blow of such international departures, with Vanney saying he expects Giovinco, if summoned, to miss a maximum of three or four league matches depending on how far Italy goes in the tournament.

Still there is the issue of travel, plus rest needed after a high-profile tournament. And Toronto's forward options are young and limited.

Conte will name his final squad May 31, before the Azzurri fly to France on June 8.

Giovinco, who has won 23 caps for Italy, did not speak to reporters Tuesday.

In 43 MLS games, the 29-year-old Italian has already essentially rewritten the Toronto FC record book and is making a considerable mark on league honours as well. He is the face of the league these days.

Giovinco added two more records with a two-goal, one-assist performance against the Whitecaps.

He moved into sole possession of Toronto's all-time league scoring mark with 30 goals. The Italian had shared the record of 28 with Dwayne De Rosario. And with 30 goals and 21 career assists in 43 matches, he became the fastest player in league history to have a hand in 50 goals (goals plus assists). Robbie Keane had held the previous record at 48 matches.

Giovinco has scored or assisted on 51 of Toronto's 71 league goals (71.8 per cent) since joining the club for the 2015 season.

In addition to Altidore, Benoit Cheyrou (quad) is out for Toronto on Wednesday with fellow midfielders Jonathan Osorio (ankle) and Marky Delgado (hamstring) improving but likely not available until the weekend.

Rookie Mo Babouli trained in Altidore's place Tuesday with Jay Chapman in for Osorio and Williams replacing Perquis at centre back.

Frank Lampard is questionable for New York with a calf injury. The 37-year-old former England star has yet to play a league game this season but is said to be close to returning to action.


Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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