TORONTO – Half the world away from their former stomping grounds in Northern Italy, a pair of former Serie A stars met on the pitch once more on Wednesday night.
In a duel between former Juventus attacker Sebastian Giovinco and former AC Milan playmaker Kaká, it was the Italian who got the better of the Brazilian as Toronto FC defeated Orlando City SC by a 2-1 mark at BMO Field.
Giovinco got things rolling in the ninth minute, scoring his fourth goal of the season, and then added another in the 38th minute after Victor Vazquez unselfishly set him up.
“It was nice [scoring two goals tonight],” said Giovinco with a smile. “It's good to score. In front of your fans, in your home, is more beautiful. So I'm happy.”
Greg Vanney was full of praise for Giovinco: “He's an incredibly special player. We've said as much so many times since the day he arrived and started wow-ing us.”
“He put a lot of work in today for the group, defensively,” continued Vanney. “And, obviously, he had a good feel for where the goal was tonight.”
Giovinco now has four goals in his last three matches, and Vanney chalked that up to the star player, “finding that rhythm, finding pockets around the field, because he knows that people are going to [be] close to him.”
“[And] finding a good rhythm within the group, within the relationships around him, getting into goal-scoring positions,” continued Vanney. “I suspect as he continues to do those things he is going to continue to score goals. He's very difficult to stop. He doesn't need many chances, especially when he's feeling it.”
Not to be wholly outdone, Kaká, still coming back from a lengthy injury absence, got his side on the board in first half stoppage-time. He got on the end of a well-worked corner kick routine to score in his second straight match and give his club a chance of pulling out a result.
Orlando fought back into the match during the closing 45 minutes, pressuring TFC and creating a pair of good-looking chances, but could not find the equalizer. Kaká exited in the 65th minute.
“He's finding his way,” said Orlando City head coach Jason Kreis, “Lots of positive touches, lots of creative decisions on the ball to create goal-scoring chances. Even in the first half, when our energy wasn't quite right, we were still getting into positive spots. He was involved in most of that. In the first 15 minutes of the second half things were really going our way. I would have loved to play him longer, but when returning from injury, you can't afford to do that.”
Added Giovinco: “It's beautiful to play against [Kaka]. He's a big player. It's beautiful."
Kaká may have had a decent showing, but Giovinco was the star on the field who shone brightest.
"It was important to win, three points, I scored," said Giovinco. "It's good.”