TORONTO - Even though the Philadelphia Union knew he was coming, there was nothing that could be done to stop Sebastian Giovinco on a hot and humid afternoon on the shores of Lake Ontario.
Giovinco, who scored the game's only goal in the first meeting between clubs at the start of May, added a goal and an assist to his tally, leading Toronto to a 2-1 win over Philadelphia and bringing his season totals up to 12 goals and nine assists.
Separated by a mere two points on a tightly-packed Eastern table, where just six points separate second-place from ninth, both teams were absent their respective captains: the Union's Maurice Edu suspended for yellow card accumulation and TFC's Michael Bradley away at the Gold Cup with the US Men's National Team.
Toronto were also forced into a goalkeeping change with Joe Bendik in for Chris Konopka, who was suspended for a rash challenge on Andoni Iraola in last Sunday's rollicking 4-4 draw with New York City FC. Though they welcomed back Jozy Altidore from Gold Cup duties, having been deemed surplus to requirement by USMNT coach, Jürgen Klinsmann.
Following a slow, tentative start from both teams, TFC took the lead in the 29th minute through Marky Delgado, scoring in his second consecutive match.
Collen Warner began the play, moving forward to Jonathan Osorio, who in turn found Giovinco atop the area. The Italian poked a ball forward for Delgado making a run into the box. Richie Marquez attempted to clear the threat, but Delgado had closed him down and was able to get his right-foot on the ball, redirecting it into the Philadelphia net, past a helpless Brian Sylvestre.
Three minutes later, Giovinco himself would double Toronto's advantage, latching onto an Ashtone Morgan throw-in that was knocked down by Altidore to surge up the middle. His initial fierce right-footed drive was parried by Sylvestre, getting a big paw on the effort, but Giovinco reacted quickest to the rebound, placing a low shot past the keeper.
The Union appeared to have gained a foothold in the 60th minute, following a dashing run from C.J. Sapong and Brian Carroll that ended in a throw-in, when Eric Ayuk redirected a ball past Bendik, but an offside flag ruled out the effort.
Substitute Conor Casey did get the Union on the scoresheet, pulling one back for the Union in the first minute of stoppage-time, collecting the ball at the top of the box and beating Bendik with a low shot to the bottom left-corner of goal. It was Casey's eighth goal against his former club.
TFC will look to carry that positive momentum on when they return to league play next Saturday, July 25, with a trip to Ohio to meet Trillium Cup rivals, Columbus Crew SC, for the second time this season. Philadelphia continues their Eastern Conference travels with a match in the capital against DC United on Sunday, July 26 at RFK Stadium, but not until after a midweek stop in New York for a US Open Cup Quarterfinal encounter against the Red Bulls on Tuesday.