Sebastian Giovinco leaves MLS all too soon

Sebastian Giovinco  has left Major League Soccer all too soon.

After four seasons with Toronto FC, it was announced on Wednesday night that the 32-year-old Italian was transferred to Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia.

Giovinco was in the last year of his five-year contract with the Reds. He expressed interest in finishing out his career in Toronto, but his agent and TFC management could not come to an agreement on a new deal.

TFC president Bill Manning said Giovinco leaves Toronto as the greatest player in club history. Indeed, he will go down as one of the most influential players in MLS history.

Only a handful of players can match what he has meant to the league: Marco Etcheverry for what he did with the great D.C. United teams of MLS's early years, Landon Donovan as the first great American star with six MLS titles over his first 14 seasons, David Beckham for the credibility he brought to the league when it most needed it and likely Miguel Almiron for his two seasons at Atlanta United and how he has become the symbol of a changing league ready to buy and sell on the international market.

Giovinco left Juventus at the age of 28 for Toronto FC and helped turn around one of the worst teams in MLS history -- no playoff appearances in its first seven seasons. He delivered in one of the biggest sports towns in North America, producing four of the greatest years a player has had in MLS history:

-- MLS MVP in 2015;
-- MLS Cup runner-up and Canadian champion in 2016;
-- Treble winner (MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield and Canadian Championship) in 2017; and
-- Concacaf Champions League runner-up  and Canadian champion in 2018.

Giovinco wasn't the only player who helped turn around the Reds. Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, both also entering the last years of their contracts, were also signed to huge contracts. But there was no doubt about who was the superstar.

Seba scored 83 goals and added 64 assists in 142 appearances across all competitions and was an MLS Best XI selection in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Toronto FC collapsed in 2018 but not before reaching the Concacaf Champions League final with wins over Mexican giants Tigres and Club America. No player did more to boost MLS credibility in Mexico than the 5-foot-4 Giovinco.

"Coming into the organization, I was really excited to work with him and get to know him as a person and as a player,” said new Toronto FC general manager Ali Curtis. “We believe in consistency, so this transfer hits hard in a lot of places. I have so much respect for Sebastian as a player and what he has meant to the organization. His departure presents both challenges and opportunities. Obviously, replacing a player like Sebastian is difficult, but we are working diligently and are confident that we will be adding a new Designated Player in the near future who will be an exciting addition to our team.”

3 comments about "Sebastian Giovinco leaves MLS all too soon".
  1. beautiful game, January 31, 2019 at 9:29 a.m.

    Gio needs to cash in before his career is over...nothing wrong with that.

  2. R2 Dad replied, January 31, 2019 at 10:53 p.m.

    SG is 32--it's TFC that is cashing in, and offloading the high wages (by MLS standards).

  3. frank schoon replied, February 1, 2019 at 9:58 a.m.

    R2, 32 years old in this league is nothing ,especially if you're a good technical player, for they don't have to run around with foam on their mouths, but instead employ their skill and brains. Now unless this guy had lousy season, hasn't done anything and its been going downhill for him in the past couple of years  then I can understand management's situation; but that't not what has occurred. There is something clubs/management should understand in how to treat their players and certainly how to treat them with RESPECT, especially in light of what he has done for the club and the league in general. You don't throw somebody like that by the wayside for what he has done, sofar. This is how you build loyalty for the club once a player retires.

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