Once upon a time, there was a Canadian soccer team called Toronto FC. For years and years they dreamed of one day becoming a powerhouse in the MLS but rarely challenged the best teams and struggled to make an impact. Then, on a Winter's day in 2015, a player signed a five-year contract that would make him the highest-paid player in the league at the time.
Who Is Sebastian Giovinco?
This player injected life into the team, broke goalscoring records, and above all turned a side with dreams into a side with tangible aspirations. This player was named Sebastian Giovinco.
Giovinco is a 30 year old forward from Turin, Italy, who is comfortably Toronto FC's most well known player. Although he is barely halfway through his third year with the club it is already clear that he will go down as one of the side's most influential players after an emphatic fairy-tale entrance to the biggest league in North America.
His impact on the pitch can be summed up numerically by his return of 45 goals and 30 assists in 72 appearances for the club, but those who follow the team will know that he does so much more for the team. The mere presence of the Italian in the line-up is enough to throw opposing defenders off their game, which sets up opportunities for others to score, and his aura lifts the entire Reds outfit whenever he is on the pitch.
Sebastian Giovinco doesn't just score goals, he scores emphatic, top-class strikes that make him an absolute crowd favourite at the BMO Stadium in Toronto. He has scored some of the best free kicks you are likely to see in the MLS and can also turn a game in minutes - he scored a nine-minute hat trick against New York City in July 2015. The collective sense of anticipation that reverberates around TFC's home patch every time he is on the ball is almost enough on it's own to justify his heavy price tag. Giovinco's career was centred around one of Europe's giants, 2017 Champions League Finalists Juventus, where the Italian spent the best part of twenty years.
He began in the youth setup in 1996 at the age of just nine and made his senior debut eleven years later in May 2017. He was widely tipped to be the successor of legendary number 10 Alessandro Del Piero, however never really lived up to the hype and spent much of his career on loan at other Italian sides Empoli and Parma.
Giovinco has also made 21 appearances for the national team however only found the back of the net once in his time with the Azure. His decision to leave for Toronto was probably an easy one given the money on offer, although the chance to become a big fish in a small pond would have been the real appeal for the Italian. He had spent his whole career competing with some of Europe's biggest names and clearly was less suited to this environment, so it was unsurprising to see him thrive in a competition with a lower level of overall quality.
MLS Top Goal Scorers
What was surprising, however, was the sheer level of output that Giovinco provided for his new club after leaving Juventus in early 2015. While Toronto FC saw the playmaker as a marquee player who would provide a touch of the Serie A to their side, it is hard to imagine they could have predicted the number of goals and assists he would create.
In 2015 he broke the MLS single season points record (goals plus assists) by scoring 22 times and setting up 13. Giovinco has one of the best goalscoring ratios in MLS history with a ratio of 0.67 goals per 90 mins. Giovinco won the Golden Boot in his debut season, however missed out on the award in 2016 as the New York Red Bulls' Bradley Wright-Phillips took out his second top-goalscoring prize (he also won in 2014). This year, he will be gunning for the trophy again, although he faces some stiff competition from a number of great strikers around the league.
Wright-Phillips is always a threat, while legends such as David Villa are always looking to stake a claim. Then there is internal competition with Jozy Altidore looking to add more and more goals to his collection. In 2017 so far, Chicago Fire's Nemanja Nikolic has been absolutely, well, on fire. He has scored 13 goals at an outstanding ratio of 0.84 per 90 mins and is one of the big reasons behind the team's sensational form reversal compared to last year. If he continues to bang in goals at his current rate he will have no problem taking the award and may even knock over some season records in the process. David Villa is the next best with ten goals (and an impressive six assists), and he shares second place with Houston's Erick Torres. Giovinco has started the season slowly with just six goals, however he has also played in less matches and could still make a big impact with over half the season still to play.
The Golden Boot is one of the most popular betting lines in the MLS and the top sportsbooks offer fantastic odds throughout the season. If you think Sebastian Giovinco is about to explode into life and start a goalscoring frenzy, why not place a bet on the little Italian? He is miles down the list at the moment and is sure to attract a fantastic price so now is the perfect time to pounce. It is never a bad idea to place a bet on individual performances in MLS games. While the 'first goalscorer' market is tough and justifiably offers huge prices, another lesser known but useful market is the 'to score' line. This simply allows you to choose whether or not your player will score in a match. As per the above, Giovinco's career goalscoring ratio at Toronto is decent, and so it is always worth a shot to tip a goal. Similarly, Nemanja Nikolic's form is such that you'd be crazy not to jump on. This is a fantastic way to make a buck. Finally, you can always choose from a selection of fantastic lines on all head-to-head matches in the MLS, and odds are updated frequently to account for all the ins and outs. Toronto FC are the form team in the competition at the moment thanks to players like Giovinco and Altidore, and you can be sure that they will be priced as favourites in most of their matches, so why not try your luck with a 'correct score', 'handicap' or 'number of goals' bet. There are hundreds of ways to place a wager and you can bet there will be something that meets your needs. Whatever you decide, remember that the best betting odds and lines can be found right here. Don't forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and discuss your own betting tips and also whether you think Sebastian Giovinco is in for another record-breaking season. As always, best of luck!