TORONTO — Sebastian Giovinco scored two goals and set up a third Saturday afternoon to lift Toronto FC to a much-needed 3-1 win over the Colorado Rapids.
Military Appreciation Day, which drew 19,692 to BMO Field, started with sunshine but turned grey and very wet in the second half as sheets of rain billowed in off Lake Ontario.
Giovinco, a one-man wrecking crew, had worked his magic by then. He came out in the 84th minute to a standing ovation from those fans still left in the stands.
The Italian star now has 19 goals in 28 games in his debut MLS season, moving him incredibly into second place in TFC’s career goal-scoring list behind Dwayne De Rosario (28 goals, 76 games). Giovinco’s 14 assists are also a team record, one of several club marks he already holds.
Giovinco had several chances at his third hat trick of the season, floating a free kick just high in the second half downpour after being hacked down. There was more rough treatment to come with a delightful second-half flick-on prompting an arm to the face from Colorado captain Sam Cronin, who was cautioned on the play.
Damien Perquis also scored for Toronto, with an assist from Giovinco. The Italian has had a direct hand in 67 per cent of Toronto’s 49 goals — a single-season franchise record goals total.
The win was a club-record 12th of the season for Toronto (12-13-4), snapping a three-game losing streak.
Toronto, which scored three or more goals for the eighth time this season, needed the boost. Over its previous 10 games (3-6-1), it had dropped 20 of 30 available points.
Dillon Powers scored for Colorado (8-11-10), which is now winless in three. The Rapids’ road record dropped to 3-6-5 with a league-low nine goals away from home.
The game was the first of five straight at home before Toronto closes out the regular season in Montreal.
Colorado features a stingy defence and no offence. But its backline was no match for Giovinco as Toronto pulled the Rapids formation apart.
The Italian international had not scored in three games, despite taking 20 shots, and had missed another game with an adductor problem. It didn’t take him long to find the target Saturday, with two good cracks on goal before he hit paydirt.
He opened the scoring in the 14th minute, dribbling in from the halfway line while Colorado players backed away. When he got to the edge of the box, he hammered a low shot that Clint Irwin got a hand to but couldn’t keep out.
Giovinco did it again four minutes later, curling a shot into the corner after a nice give-and-go with Jonathan Osorio.
When he wasn’t terrorizing Colorado defenders, Giovinco looked to play provider, via backheel, a sumptuous volleyed pass across the field or perfectly flighted cross.
He finally got an assist in the 38th minute when Perquis headed in his corner. Giovinco had won the corner, his attempt on goal stopped by a timely Colorado block.
Powers’ header made it 3-1 in the 40th minute after Toronto goalie Chris Konopka failed to corral a corner.
Getting the opening goal has been crucial to Toronto’s success this season. It is 9-0-0 when it scores first and 3-13-3 when it concedes first.
The offensively challenged Rapids were without star striker Kevin Doyle (adductor) so the Colorado starting 11 came into the game with a combined 12 goals.
Prior to weekend play, Colorado had 26 goals to rank last in the 20-team league with 0.92 goals scored a game. On the plus side, Colorado had yielded just 30 goals in 28 games. Toronto had conceded 30 in 13 games since the start of July.
While the Rapids came into the game in the Western Conference basement, they were only three points behind Toronto, which stands fifth in the East.
Toronto was without suspended Moroccan international defender Ahmed Kantari.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press