TORONTO – Sebastian Giovinco’s two first-half goals set the tone for Toronto FC on Saturday night.
The Reds controlled the tempo while playing with the lead and showed more confidence, extending their win streak to a season-best four games with a 4-1 win over the New England Revolution.
The Atomic Ant got the Reds on the board in the 20th minute, putting the rebound off of Michael Bradley’s strike past Revs keeper Bobby Shuttleworth. Nine minutes later, Giovinco curled a shot into the far corner, from just outside the area, for his second of the half.
“I thought they were critical actually because we made a little bit of an adjustment with this third game (in seven days) and I thought we were still feeling things out a bit, early on,” said Toronto coach Greg Vanney.
“With the two goals, it was almost like we just emerged out of that and became more aggressive defensively and started stepping forward a little bit more and taking charge of the game a little bit more.”
Giovinco added a third goal on a 76th-minute penalty kick to complete the hat trick. The 29-year-old Italian now leads all MLS scorers with 15 goals — two better than David Villa of New York City FC in the race for the Golden Boot. Saturday was his second three-goal game of the season.
“I think in life, and in soccer, it’s definitely good to have some objectives,” Giovinco said.
“Last year, (the Golden Boot) was one of my objectives, but also to get better. This year, if you can do it, then you might as well go for it and then at least you can say you tried.”
The win stretches Toronto’s home-unbeaten streak to nine games. TFC (10-7-6) moves a point back of New York City FC for the top spot in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand on NYCFC.
The loss is the first for New England (6-9-8) in four visits to BMO Field. The Revs had not lost in Toronto since a 1-0 defeat on May 22, 2010, a stretch of six games.
The Revs had an excellent opportunity to tie the game at 1-1 in the 25th minute but Bradley, who returned to the Reds lineup after missing seven games due to a knee injury, managed to keep Kelyn Rowe’s strike from finding the back of the net.
Toronto, playing for the third time in seven days, didn’t look tired on Saturday. Even while up 2-0, the Reds had plenty of chances to add to the lead before the break.
In the 35th minute Tosaint Ricketts, who scored his first career MLS goal in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake, was sent in all alone by Jay Chapman, but put his shot right into the arms of Shuttleworth.
A minute later, Jonathan Osorio’s strike from the top of the area just missed the top left corner of the goal.
“With the two goals, and the cushion, we immediately started to press them higher, we started to release our pressure faster, we started to be proactive in things,” Vanney said.
“The two goals, aside from the beauty of them, they changed, I thought, the mentality of the group and that really changed, I thought, the tempo of the game. (It) changed things into our favour and made the game sort of roll into our favour.”
Teal Bunbury ruined the Reds’ bid for a third consecutive shutout after re-directing a feed past Alex Bono for his second goal of the season in the 88th minute.
Jozy Altidore restored the three-goal lead in second-half stoppage time, beating Shuttleworth for his second goal of the season.