Can Toronto FC win without Sebastian Giovinco? This has been the question in minds around Toronto every time the Italian has fallen to the pitch for even a second this season.
With 17 goals and 10 assists, Giovinco has been directly responsible for at least 27 of Toronto's 45 goals scored this season. His amount of influence in the final third would dictate that he played a major part in even more.
It is a question that has only been answered once, as this weekend against the Seattle Sounders was the first game Giovinco has missed all year.
He was supposed to miss the match because he was playing with Italy is Euro 2016 qualification, instead his trip to Europe was cut short due a groin injury, and he didn't end up playing this weekend for either club or country.
The answer to the question as to whether Toronto FC can win without Giovinco? Technically the small sample size would indicate no, they lost 2-1 to the Sounders.
However, Giovinco was far from the only player missing. Benoit Cheyrou, Collen Warner, Jozy Altidore, Justin Morrow and Damien Perquis were also missing, which makes the test a bit unfair. Toronto may be able to win without Giovinco, they just can't without six starters.
The good news is that the majority of them should be back this weekend for Toronto FC's Sunday game against the New England Revolution. That could include Giovinco, according to reports out of training today.
However, Toronto need to be careful in this regard: careful not to overstate the importance of this weekend's match and risk further injury to Giovinco.
The Italian has been dealing with an adductor strain that kept him out of the last match for some time. Risking re-aggravation, or making it worse than it was before, is a possibility should be play this weekend.
There is no doubt this weekend's game is important, however it is far from crucial. With a win Toronto could pass the New England Revolution in the standings, the same thing New England did to Toronto this past weekend.
With a loss, Toronto would still be at worst three points above the Montreal Impact in sixth, and still four points into the playoff. Certainly not the end of the world, especially with "easier" upcoming games against New York City FC, Colorado Rapids, Chicago Fire and Philadelphia Union.
Realistically three wins will put Toronto in the playoffs, so risking their best player for just one would be a foolish move.
There is also the other side of this argument: is a simple playoff appearance good enough? Toronto's roster, and the amount invested in the team, has many saying that a home playoff game should be the minimum requirement for this roster.
There is some truth in that fact, playing a wildcard game, especially one not a BMO Field, will hardly feel like playoffs at all. Especially with the amount that this fanbase has suffered over the club's history.
This weekend is definitely crucial should Toronto want to finish the season in a home playoff spot, in that sense this is a six point game.
However, this close to making Toronto FC history, there is no sense in risking the health of the club's best player for a home playoff game. There is no sense getting greedy at this point.
That's why, unless Giovinco is truly healthy and the risk of injury re-aggravation is small, Greg Vanney should leave him off the team sheet.
Toronto FC can win a game without Sebastian Giovinco, there is no chance they can win a playoff game without him if he is injured.