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Italy's Snub of Giovinco Not Entirely Positive for Toronto FC

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Toronto FC will have Sebastian Giovinco in the lineup this weekend against Real Salt Lake after it was announced he was snubbed by the Italian National Team. The situation, however, may not be as a favourable as it initially seems.

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When Jermain Defoe was left off of the roster England sent to Brazil 2014 it was initially seen as a huge positive for Toronto FC. Not only would they retain their star striker, the snub would give him extra motivation to prove Roy Hodgson wrong.

For a number of games that narrative played out, as Defoe was in top form. Ultimately, however, he appeared to give up on a league and a team that had "held him back" from representing his country.

Yesterday, when it was announced Sebastian Giovinco would not be part of the Italian national team playing a Euro 2016 qualifier against Bulgaria, the headlines were exclusively positive. They read that not only will Toronto FC retain their number 10, he will be motivated to prove Antonio Conte wrong.

The similarities are not perfect, Toronto FC has promised that Giovinco is not the same as Defoe and he surely isn't. It is certainly straining to make this comparison, and most likely created by pessimism born of last season's actions. However, it is a link worth mentioning, and one of a few reasons why Giovinco's Italian snub is not entirely beneficial.

To step away from the Defoe comparison for a second, the most logical reason as to why the Giovinco snub isn't exclusively positive is the simple fact that having a Toronto FC player on the Italian national team would have been a big accomplishment. It also would have been in the conversation with Julio Cesar of Brazil for the most prolific roster spot held by an MLS player in the league's history.

Giovinco clearly thought there was a good chance of him retaining that roster spot, and this snub is likely to hit him hard. It isn't quite the same situation as Defoe in the sense that Giovinco could still make the Italian squad for Euro 2016. It is, however, not a great first impression of how MLS is rated in Italian soccer circles.

None of this is questioning Giovinco's loyalties to Toronto FC, which at this early stage would be nothing short of ridiculous. It is a simply a reminder that the Italian National team could well be his first priority, and it would be a lot easier to make that priority a reality with Arsenal or Tottenham, the other clubs interested in him this summer.
Maybe not this season, but if Giovinco continues to be left off the Azzurri roster as the European Championship gets closer and closer, he may start the get restless.

At this point, Giovinco being available for the Real Salt Lake game on Sunday should be treated at face value: as a positive. With Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore off to play for the United States, it means Toronto will at least have one DP for the match.

After much talk that Toronto would be gutted by the international break, Giovinco remaining was just one of several positives. Some of the other crucial pieces of roster news heading into the match include the fact the Jonathan Osorio was not called up by Canada, and Real Salt Lake's Luis Gil (USA U-23), Nick Rimando (USA) and Alvaro Saberio will not be available.

Optimism should prevail at this point in the season, and especially with how Giovinco has performed and acted early. However, adding the word "cautious" in front of that optimism regarding this situation can't hurt. Dismissing history could see it repeated.