When Sebastian Giovinco willingly takes himself out of a game, you know something is wrong. When it’s still in the first half and he has already scored a goal, you know something is really wrong.
During Saturday’s match at BMO Field against Minnesota United, at around the 44-minute mark, Giovinco appeared to be in significant discomfort and had to be substituted much earlier than would have been expected. During the half, an interview with head coach Greg Vanney and subsequent tweets afterwards by the Toronto FC PR account created some confusion, as it wasn't a clear whether this was his calf or quadriceps muscle. Many may have asssumed that a new strain, regardless, was not related to the previous heel injury that kept Giovinco out of the past two matches.
It is extremely likely that this latest injury and the heel problem are related. The plantar fascia, the likely area of his heel he hurt initially, is a fairly avascular tissue that doesn't heal very quickly. The tissue itself is a direct continuation of the achilles tendon, which itself is a continuation of the gastric-soleus muscle complex, colloquially known as the calf muscle.
It is very likely - probable, in fact - that to compensate for the tight plantar fascia Giovinco was overexerting his calf muscle. When that happens, the quadriceps has to do more work to allow extension of the leg when running.
When news first broke of the heel injury, I cautioned as follows:
if this is actually plantar fasciitis, then it could be a troublesome rest of the season for Giovinco. https://t.co/JQSf5BpoMq— Tej Sahota (@boatical) May 10, 2017
These heel injuries can quickly go from day to day to becoming a chronic issue that costs players the entire season. Unfortunately, the only real way to combat them is rest, rest and then some more rest.
The issue with subjective findings here is that after warmup and moving around the athlete actually describes feeling better, so I’m sure when Seba was cleared after training during the week it was done with the best intentions in mind. However, the physiological make up of the tissue means that even while the patient is feeling better, there is actually a fair amount of damage occurring at the micro level.
So what now?
Well, Greg Vanney and Toronto FC have demonstrated in the last few weeks that they can mix and match the starting XI and still have an excellent shot at three points. Toronto FC are setting club records and challenging league ones this season and have plenty of points banked. The best choice now would be to shut down Giovinco for several weeks and let this injury heal once and for all, so it doesn’t become a chronic issue that lingers all year long.
Let Seba rest, and let Jordan Hamilton or Ben Spencer have a go at it along with Jozy Altidore and Tosaint Ricketts while No. 10 takes the time off he needs.
Three points in May counts for as many as three points in October, but history proves that we will need a healthy Giovinco on the pitch during the late playoff runs that are now expected at BMO Field.
Besides, we can’t blame the Argos for ruining the pitch if Seba isn't even on there in the first place come December.
Get well Atomic Ant. See you in June.