Sebastian Giovinco – The Atomic Ant reborn

Sebastian Giovinco – The Atomic Ant reborn

TORONTO, ON - MAY 10:  Sebastian Giovinco #10 of Toronto FC has a shot on goal during an MLS soccer game between the Houston Dynamo and Toronto FC at BMO Field on May 10, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON – MAY 10: Sebastian Giovinco #10 of Toronto FC has a shot on goal during an MLS soccer game between the Houston Dynamo and Toronto FC at BMO Field on May 10, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

A little less than 10 years ago, Juventus presented Sebastian Giovinco as one of the best young players in the world. Due to his short stature (standing at a height of only 1.62m), speed and pace, Giovinco acquired the nickname Formica Atomica (“Atomic Ant”, after the eponymous Hanna-Barbera character), but he was first sent to Empoli on loan. In June 2008 he returned to Turin to play for The Old Lady.

The player from Turin’s Beinasco neighborhood joined his local club when he was nine, and soon won the Campionato Primavera after reaching the final at the Viareggio Tournament, where he was named best player of the competition. But his senior career at the Italian club did not goes many predicted it would – Giovinco was frequently injured, unable to fight for a place on the team and that’s why he went on another loan, this time to Parma. He played 93 matches for Juventus and scored only 14 goals.

However, everything changed in January when he decided to leave the continent and move to Toronto.

He signed a five-year contract with an annual salary of $7.1 million, making him the second highest paid player in the MLS behind Orlando City SC’s Kaka, and the highest paid Italian player in any league.

The minute Turin man scored eight goals before netting his first ever hat-trick in the MLS. It came on 12 July 2015, against New York City FC in a 4–4 draw at Yankee Stadium, where he also set up the fourth goal and missed a penalty. At nine minutes, it was also the third fastest hat-trick scored in the league’s history.

“The hat-trick was one of my best moments, and one of my first ever. It meant a lot to share this moment with my team, my community and my city. And compared to my other goals, the Champions League or in Italy, it’s just a different moment. So you can’t really compare it,” Giovinco said after the match.

Two and a half months later Sebastian Giovinco became the first player in MLS history to record a 20-goal, 15-assist season. The Italian shows no signs of slowing down – he will be trying to get Toronto FC a home game advantage in the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs. With less than one month left in the MLS season, it’s pretty clear who the front-runner is for the Landon Donovan MVP award.

BRIDGEVIEW, IL - APRIL 04: Members of the Chicago Fire block a penalty kick by Sebastian Giovinco #10 of Toronto FC during an MLS match at Toyota Park on April 4, 2015 in Bridgeview, Illinois. The Fire defeated Toronto FC 3-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
BRIDGEVIEW, IL – APRIL 04: Members of the Chicago Fire block a penalty kick by Sebastian Giovinco #10 of Toronto FC during an MLS match at Toyota Park on April 4, 2015 in Bridgeview, Illinois. The Fire defeated Toronto FC 3-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Major League Soccer has never before seen a 20-10 man – an attacker who accumulated 20 goals and 10 assists. Now consider that Giovinco is already a 21-15 man. He already passed Chris Wondolowski’s record total of combined goals and assists (34), and the little Atomic Ant still has that quartet of regular season matches remaining to boost his numbers.

It took 20 years for someone to assemble a 20-15 season, and it might take another 20 for someone to beat Giovinco’s single-season. Sebastian is currently averaging 1.24 goals and assists per 90 minutes this season, which is better than Wondolowski’s mark of 1.09. Social networks are flooded with video clips in which the 28-year-old stuns his opponents, which is why he became one of the most popular players to watch.

Moreover, he has created 57 chances for his teammates, and we would have already had a 20-20 man if every tenth of them had been realized.

“At the moment, I’m very happy with my performance. The last couple of years, I haven’t been in very good shape. And now, I’m very happy to keep scoring, helping the team to achieve their goals. But I’m feeling better as well. I’m playing better than I was in Europe.”

In addition to the field, Giovinco is enjoying the city he is living in. He likes the anonymity of playing in Canada. It’s something Tim Cahill often spoke about when he played with the New York Red Bulls.

“The difference between Italy and here is that here we can enjoy time with family, time with friends. So after training, we can just go for a walk, we can go for an ice cream with the family, shopping, whatever. And when we do get stopped by fans, they are very respectful, and they are not so touchy and aggressive. So it’s a different lifestyle, and I’m definitely enjoying it.”

In his first season, Sebastian Giovinco has established himself as one of the best players in the MLS. Many journalists around the continent think that Italian is having the best season in league history.

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