Sebastian Giovinco's recent goalless woes reached a boiling point on Saturday. After beating a defender, and then missing a shot to the far post, Giovinco ripped open his jersey in frustration. It was a moment of raw emotion from a player who did everything in his power to score for 90 minutes, but once again failed.
It was the seventh straight league game that Sebastian Giovinco has gone scoreless, his longest streak in a Toronto FC uniform. The only reprieve came in the first leg of the Voyageurs Cup, when his deflected shot found the back of the net. It is a slump that has been pointed out by many, but seems to anger nobody more than the atomic ant himself.
How far the discussion has come in the last few weeks from questions whether or not Toronto could do anything without Giovinco. After all, through the first 10 games of the season the Italian had either scored or assisted on every goal Toronto FC had created. Now the team is starting to get contributions from elsewhere, but that doesn't mean it's time to worry about Giovinco.
"Right now its just about calibrating his corners and the spots that he wants to hit and bringing that back in," said Greg Vanney on Saturday about Giovinco's goalless drought. "We know it will come because we've seen it before and we know what he is capable of. It's just a little bit off right now in one way or another, but he'll find his way."
As Vanney also mentioned, it isn't a lack of effort. Giovinco had a stunning 13 shots against the Fire, albeit only one of them on target. He has taken 107 shots this season, second most in the league. A mixture of bad shots, solid goalkeeping, injuries to himself and teammates and bad luck has kept him stuck at 8 goals, still fifth best in the league.
Could he have used those offensive positions to find teammates more? Absolutely. But being a high volume shooter has always been a big part of Giovinco's game. Last year, he led the league with 188 shots. The issue lately is that they aren't going in, and therefore a narrative has developed about his shooting.
It's easy to see where this story began as well, all this has happened since Giovinco was left off of Antonio Conte's Euro 2016 roster. Further adding to this is the fact that there is a precedent: Jermain Defoe after he was left off England's World Cup team. Only, there is a notable difference in their play. Defoe checked out completely after that, while Giovinco has been trying just as hard as before, just without the results.
Giovinco's efforts are still helping Toronto FC win, as they have lost just twice during his scoreless stretch. He has two assists during that time, and many of his shots have led to scoring chances and goals for teammates. See Jordan Hamilton's goal against Seattle as an example.
There is hope on the horizon as well. A much more accurate starting point for the Giovinco slump is not when he missed the Euro team, but in fact when strike partner Jozy Altidore went down to injury. Altidore had been crucial to much of Giovinco's early season success, and creates a good deal of space for the atomic ant.
If nothing else does, Altidore's return this week is likely to coincide with a return to form for Sebastian Giovinco, and make no mistake it is coming. Giovinco is too talented to be held down for this long, and has proven it time and time again at the MLS level. He deserves the benefit of the doubt from Toronto FC fans while he tries to get back on track.