It turns out that all Sebastian Giovinco needed to find his goalscoring rhythm again was a round of golf. The Italian hit the links this week, and believes it may have helped in breaking his eight-game scoreless drought.
He celebrated with a golf swing after scoring the second goal of his hat-trick tonight, an outburst that led Toronto FC to a 4-1 victory over DC United. He now has 11 goals on the season, putting him third in the golden boot race behind only David Villa and Ignacio Piatti.
"This week I celebrated with [a golf swing], because this week I participated in a benefit tournament," said Giovinco after the match. "Last year I did as well, and after scoring three goals I feel like the golf possibly brought me the luck that I needed."
But while Giovinco's brilliant return to form will steal the headlines, tonight was really a team effort. For most of the match, everything was working in sync, as the club expertly passed its way around DC United. It was a refreshing, and important, response to last Saturday's loss to the 9-man San Jose Earthquakes.
"We were all embarrassed and ashamed at giving away what could have been three points, but for sure one giving away that goal," said coach Greg Vanney. "The guys showed up to training this week and really put it in. We worked through some tactical things and they were locked in."
In what was an entertaining performance, Toronto FC looked as good as they have all season in attack. The midfield foursome of Benoit Cheyrou, Jay Chapman, Tsubasa Endoh and Marky Delgado combined perfectly to provide plenty of service to Giovinco and Jordan Hamilton up top.
There were brilliant flicks, turns and passes as the Toronto midfield played an open and confident style so rarely seen this season. They played inspired soccer at both ends of the field, and absolutely deserved the end product. It was everything that was missing a week ago.
As aforementioned, the whole Toronto FC team took the loss to San Jose hard, but perhaps nobody took it harder than Alex Bono. The rookie goalkeeper's mistake may have cost his team a crucial point, and he was the first one to point it out in training this week.
But tonight he bounced back well, making some crucial saves and once again looking confident in his box. Many criticised Vanney giving Bono another chance, but so far the move has been proven right.
"It's great to have the backing of the manager, and to have him put his confidence in me week after week, even after making a mistake last week," said Bono. "It's my job as a goalkeeper to bounce back and show that he's making the right decision. I don't think he'll have any complaints about the game today, so hopefully we will just keep moving on up."
The club was given a boost late in the match when Greg Vanney introduced both Jozy Altidore, who was making a return from injury, and debutant Tosaint Ricketts. Both came in with plenty of energy and confidence as they brought some late electricity to BMO Field.
Ricketts had several chances, one of which hit the post. Altidore, meanwhile, looked excellent as well earning his third assist of the season on a late goal. It was a promising sign of things to come, and for Ricketts it was a special moment.
"During the national anthem, I felt something I never felt before, and I knew I was in the right place and that was a great feeling," said Ricketts, smiling.
A win of this magnitude could not have come at a better time for Toronto FC, as they start a crucial four-game homestand. The real test, however, will be how they follow up this impressive result. TFC had a similar, albeit not as emphatic, performance against FC Dallas to kick off their last four-game homestand. They collected only two points in their next three.
One thing that Toronto FC has lacked all season is consistency, which makes it not that surprising that their worst performance of the season last week was followed up by this week, which may have been their best. This stretch, given the boost they will get from their new and returning players, is a chance for the team to get into a rhythm.
Tonight was a glimpse of what Toronto FC can be at their top level, and it was darn impressive. The trick now is to make it happen more often.