Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney is unfazed by a rare penalty miss by Sebastian Giovinco. For Vanney, the Atomic Ant has the arsenal and the will to succeed at the penalty spot.
Real Salt Lake ‘keeper Nick Rimando saved Giovinco’s penalty Saturday in a 0-0 season-opening draw, marking just the Italian’s second miss in 10 tries in Major League Soccer.
Asked if he would bet on Giovinco successfully converting his next penalty, Vanney wasted little time answering in the positive.
Giovinco’s go-to penalty is to the goalkeeper’s right, which led to armchair quarterbacking in some quarters on the weekend. But not Vanney’s. In his book, there’s no need to tell Jamie Oliver how to cook an egg.
Giovinco, the league’s MVP and top goal-scorer in 2015, has 43 goals (and 35 assists) in 69 regular-season and playoff games with Toronto.
Variety is the spice of life, however. And Vanney conceded that the penalty save might get his star striker dipping a little deeper into his sizable bag of tricks.
“I think, all things considered, it will get Seba thinking a little bit about his approach and the different things he can do,” he said after a wet, windy training session Tuesday. “I’ve seen him hit all different sides of the goal (in practice), so I know he’s capable of doing it.
“Maybe he’s a little superstitious, I’m not sure exactly, but he’s a good finisher. I know he can mix it up and he can do different things. And I think it’s probably about that time he starts showing some different looks to create a little more uncertainty for the goalkeepers.
“I thought if he kept going to that side someone was going to catch him at some point or another. Obviously that was this weekend.”
Giovinco did not speak to the media Tuesday. But he scored frequently in open play during the day’s training session.
Usually he buries penalty attempts in the corner, taking the ‘keeper out of the equation even if he guesses right. But Saturday’s attempt was too close to Rimando, who is exceptional at stopping spot kicks.
Vanney also said Giovinco has started using a stutter step, which can throw the ‘keeper’s timing off. But on Saturday, he didn’t bother and Rimando guessed right.
“On that one, it was a good read and Nick is very good at that,” said Vanney, who took more than a few penalties during his own playing career. “In fairness to Nick and credit to Nick, he’s saved a lot of PKs over the years. It’s a knack â€” just as taking a PK is a knack, I think saving them is a knack and definitely Nick has it.”
Saturday marked Rimando’s 29th penalty stop in 18 MLS seasons and 20th since joining Real Salt Lake in 2007.
Giovinco hit the post last July in a 4-4 tie with New York City FC that saw the Italian score a first-half hat trick â€” including a successful penalty â€” within a nine-minute span.
“He’s fully capable of mixing it up. I think it’s just him deciding that he wants to do it and going with it,” said Vanney.
NOTES: Fullback Steven Beitashour missed practice Tuesday after taking a ball in the face Saturday. Vanney said the blow had caused a “mild concussion” and “some discomfort” in the neck and head. The hope is Beitashour might be able to rejoin practice Wednesday in some form. If not, Vanney said the defender would be questionable for the weekend … Toronto FC 2 has signed 25-year-old goalkeeper Mark Pais, who spent the last two seasons with Saint Louis FC of the USL.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press