Even after a 5-0 win without him, Greg Vanney could not escape a couple of questions about Sebastian Giovinco.
To recap for those that missed this week’s drama: Giovinco thinks he has recovered from a quad injury and wanted to play against the Columbus Crew, but the medical evidence suggests he hasn’t. The Italian subsequently took to Instagram a day before the match to express his frustration.
Vanney admitted afterwards that he “didn’t love” the post but would not go any further than that despite being asked a fairly leading question that invited him to agree that Giovinco’s actions were disruptive. My impression is that the Toronto FC coach has close to zero interest in this stuff, and generally just lets Seba stew for a day or two before he forgets about it and everyone moves on.
We don’t know what goes on behind the scenes - Vanney’s stock answer is always that he will have “a discussion” with the player - but he seems to feel little need to send a message about his own authority by asserting it in public.
After jokingly correcting the reporter on the date of the Instagram post, Vanney said: “In fairness, it’s one of those things where he has trained this week, he’s hit shots, he’s done a lot of things that I think we as players feel like ‘I’m ready to go’.
“What we have a team of doctors for is to inform us on whether there’s a risk or not a risk associated with playing a player in a situation. I think Seba fully feels like… I understand his position, he looked great in training, he looked like he was ready. The fear was that in an unpredictable environment like a game, where you have fatigue because it’s a long game, there was still - and the MRI still showed - some form of an injury, so there is an inherent risk of being out there.
“So while the player feels great, obviously the medical team sees that there is a risk associated because there is still a weakness, because the muscle is not fully healed. So therein lies the balance.
“The decision was made that there was too much of a risk, probably, for this particular game, that we would play the long game a little bit, and that was the frustration because I get it, I was a player. When I felt good I wanted to play, as I guess he does. But that’s part of the reason we have a medical team, is to advise us on what they think is a risk and what the level of that risk is for re-injury.”
To the suggestion he should be irritated by Giovinco subsequently going public, Vanney continued: “Yeah, preferably it’s better kept in house. That’s a discussion for me and him. But again, what I’m saying to you is I understand, because he was performing in training and he looked good but the medical decision was otherwise.
“In terms of the Instagram, I don’t love the Instagram for sure and that’s a discussion for he and I and we’ll move from there.”
It’s getting increasingly dull, but the off-the-field noise around Giovinco will probably not stop until he is back on it and scoring goals.