Toronto FC eyeing MLS record with Giovinco set to return

Sebastian Giovinco spreads arms in celebrationAlmost everything has gone right for Toronto FC in 2017. They cruised to the first Supporters Shield in club history by scoring at will and dominating opponents at home, and they can set a new MLS record for points in a season if they finish with at least a win and a tie in their final two contests. It’s enough to put them in the conversation of best-ever MLS teams—and winning the MLS Cup would give them a pretty strong case.

Toronto is built around its trio of designated players in Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore, and Michael Bradley, but the club’s success this year has come from depth as much as top-end talent. International signing Victor Vazquez leads the league in assists, while tying with Justin Morrow for third on the team in goals with eight. Canadian Tosaint Ricketts has made the most of his limited playing time with seven goals, and Alex Bono emerged as a force in net after an early-season injury to Clint Irwin.

That depth will likely be tested on another MLS Cup run after Toronto lost in the final last season, even though their favourable position atop the standings has allowed certain players to rest before the playoffs. Giovinco missed Toronto’s last four games due to quad tightness, and while the club stumbled briefly without Giovinco—losing consecutive games for the first time all year in September—he is on track to return for the final two regular-season games to help chase the record.

Giovinco spoke of his desire to bring a championship to Toronto in a Players’ Tribune article published Wednesday. He also mentioned how the first thing he noticed when he arrived in Toronto in 2015 was the cold, which has proven to be a nemesis of his on the pitch. Giovinco was ineffective in frigid temperatures last December, when Seattle held Toronto scoreless at home and prevailed in a shootout to win the Cup. Another run to the final would mean more winter weather to play through, but Giovinco should know what to expect this time.

Toronto FC host the Montreal Impact on October 15 before closing their season with a visit to Atlanta the following week. Earning at least four points out of those games will do nothing to change Toronto’s standings position or chance at winning a championship, but it would raise the bar for what is possible in an MLS season, and it would give Toronto FC something the club has been lacking in its relatively brief existence: a legacy.