Giovinco is training back with Toronto FC, but the future of the club is still unclear


Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

Published Thursday, January 27, 2022 2:54 PM EST


Last Updated on Thursday, 27 January 2022 21:29 EST

Former MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco wants to end his career with Toronto FC and take the first step on a possible return Thursday at the MLS club’s pre-season camp in California.

Giovinco, who turned 35 on Wednesday, trained with the team for the first time since leaving in January 2019 due to a pay dispute. Without a contract at the moment, it’s now about seeing if Giovinco and Bob Bradley, TFC’s new coach and sporting director, think it fits well.

“I have great respect for Sebastian because he has made it clear to us that he wants to end his career in Toronto in the right way, and we respect that a lot,” said Toronto President Bill Manning. “He has made it clear to us that it is not about money right now and it clears a big hurdle.

“And now it’s going to be about the fit. And Bob gets the chance to know him, and he gets a chance to see Bob and where he would fit in. And if all goes well from that point of view, we will take the next steps. “

Both sides seem willing to give it a shot.

“At this point, everyone’s eyes are wide open,” Manning said. “But we say ‘Hi, let’s see how it goes. Let’s get him to train with the team. Let’s see how it fits.’ ‘

The former Juventus striker had to go through the league’s allotment process, which regulates, among other things, former MLS players’ return to the league. Toronto is currently in third place on the allotment list after Inter Miami and FC Cincinnati.

Manning said the report he got back from Giovinco’s first training session on Thursday was good.

“I heard he scored a goal,” Manning said with a laugh.

The Italian star left the MLS club in early 2019 when Toronto, unwilling to meet his contract requirements, sold him to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal FC.

Giovinco, who had a residence in Toronto, left the Saudi club in August last year by mutual agreement and has made no secret of his desire to rejoin the TFC.

If he still has it, it could fit well.

Toronto needs some star power in the attack. And having Giovinco back in the fold can also help win back fans who made the club angry after a dismal 6-18-10 season.

Giovinco, meanwhile, returns to the club that embraced him. He reciprocated that love with plenty of highlights-real-goals in his first round.

In December 2020, the little striker known as Atomic Ant was named to the league’s list of 25 best players along with the likes of David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and Canadian Dwayne De Rosario.

The news that Giovinco was back appeared Thursday morning when the club, which arrived in California on January 18 for training camp, finally announced its camp list.

Giovinco was listed as being “invited to train”, a sign of respect for the former TFC star. Several other players were listed as “trialists”.

Giovinco, the top earner in MLS in 2018 for US $ 7.115 million, is Toronto’s leading goal scorer.

In four seasons with Toronto, Giovinco had 68 goals and 52 assists in 114 games in the regular season (111 starts).

He won MVP honors in his debut season in 2015, as he was directly involved in 65 percent of Toronto’s 58 goals with 22 goals and 16 assists. In all tournaments he had 83 goals and 64 assists in 142 appearances.

With questions about the future of the designated players Jozy Altidore and Yeferson Soteldo, who are both not in the camp, and the Italian star Lorenzo Insigne, who will not be joining the club until July, TFC lacks attacking opportunities.

The list shows the returning Ifunanyachi Achara, Ayo Akinola, Jayden Nelson and Jordan Perruzza, plus the 2022 draft pick Reshaun Walkes, trial leader Wilson Harris, Hugo Mbongue from Toronto FC II and the recent signing of Deandre Kerr on forward.

A club spokesman said the list only covers players in the camp, which explains the absence of Canadian midfielder Jonathan Osorio and Jamaican defender Kemar Lawrence, who is away on international service.

Soteldo, who is currently at Venezuela, is expected to be on his way out of the TFC talking about a swap with the Mexican Tigres for Mexican international defender Carlos Salcedo.

Toronto FC Camp Roster

Goalkeepers: Alex Bono, Luka Gavran (unsigned draft pick), Greg Ranjitsingh, Andrea Vaikla (Toronto FC II), Quentin Westberg.

Defenders: Auro Jr., Kadin Chung (trial player), Kobe Franklin (Toronto FC II), Rohan Goulbourne (Toronto FC II), Lukas MacNaughton, Talen Maples (Toronto FC II), Chris Mavinga, Shane O’Neill, Luca Petrasso, Luke Singh, Damia Viader (experimenter).

Midfielders: Michael Bradley, Dante Campbell (Toronto FC II), Antonio Carlini, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, Noble Okello, Alejandro Pozuelo, Ralph Priso, Jacob Shaffelburg, Kosi Thompson (Toronto FC II).

Forwards: Ifunanyachi Achara, Ayo Akinola, Sebastian Giovinco (invited to train), Wilson Harris (trialist), Deandre Kerr, Hugo Mbongue, Jayden Nelson, Jordan Perruzza, Reshaun Walkes (unsigned draft selection).

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on January 27, 2022.

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