TFC notebook: Giovinco expected to return vs. Montreal

Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco. (Graham Hughes/CP)

Toronto FC was back in training on Wednesday ahead of its home game against the Montreal Impact this weekend.

Here are some news and notes from today’s practice.

GIOVINCO EXPECTED TO RETURN ON SUNDAY

Coach Greg Vanney said he expects top scorer Sebastian Giovinco to be available for the Reds’ home game against the Montreal Impact on Sunday.

Giovinco has sat out the last four matches due to quad tightness, with his last appearance coming in TFC’s 4-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes at BMO Field on Sept. 9.

The Italian is back in full training, and should be available for selection on Sunday, barring any setbacks between now and then.

“He will progress this week, and continue to do the things he does [in full training]. So long as everybody on the team continues in the direction they have been over the last week, then everybody will be available for the weekend,” Vanney said.

He later added: “I’m just making the assumption that he’ll keep doing what he’s been doing for the last week and he’ll be fine. That’s really it.”

Giovinco leads TFC in scoring this season with 15 goals in 23 games.

RICKETTS QUESTONABLE FOR SUNDAY

The only other injury concern for TFC is forward Tosaint Ricketts, who is dealing with a hip problem. Ricketts was with the Canadian national team ahead of its international friendly against El Salvador in Houston on the weekend, but he was sent home early on account of his injury.

“We had an MRI and it seems to be something hip related. He’s moving around again today and progressing in the right way. Our hope is by Friday he’ll be all in, and will be available for selection on Sunday,” Vanney said.

PLAYERS BACK FROM INTERNATIONAL DUTY

A number of TFC players are back in town after being away on international duty.

Wingback Nicolas Hasler played in World Cup qualifying for Liechtenstein, while midfielder Jonathan Osorio, winger Raheem Edwards and Ricketts have also returned after being with the Canadian team.

Captain Michael Bradley and forward Jozy Altidore (United States), and winger Armando Cooper (Panama) are still making their way back to Toronto following Tuesday night’s World Cup qualifiers.

Cooper will be a in a good mood after Panama qualified for the World Cup for the first time in its history. The U.S. suffered a 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago, and failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986.

Vanney has yet to speak with Bradley, the U.S. captain, and Altidore, but he figures he’ll have to do a little counselling to boost their spirits and help them get over the disappointment.

“When they come back I’ll have a conversation with each of them to see where they’re at. A lot of guys want to get back out onto the field as quickly as possible to put it behind them, while others guys [go through] a long process,” Vanney said.

“My job is to help them move on and at the appropriate speeds so that they can focus on what we have in front of us, which is a lot of opportunity. I’m sure they recognize that.”

LOOKING AHEAD TO MONTREAL

Saturday’s match at BMO Field is the third and final regular season meeting between TFC and the Impact. The Reds earned a 3-1 win in Montreal on Aug. 27, while the Impact beat TFC 5-3 at BMO Field on Sept. 20.

Toronto also bested Montreal in the two-legged final of the Canadian Championship to hoist the Voyageurs Cup.

While TFC has already clinched the Supporters’ Shield (the trophy awarded to the team that finishes the MLS regular season in first place) and a first-round bye in the playoffs, the Impact were officially eliminated from post-season contention last weekend when the New York Red Bulls claimed the sixth and final berth in the Eastern Conference.

The Reds will be officially presented the Supporters’ Shield trophy prior to Sunday’s game against their bitter rival.

“We haven’t talked about it that much, just because what this team has done very well is put their goals out in front of them, attack those goals, then put it behind them and move on to the next goal,” Vanney said.

“The actual passing of the [trophy] to our fans will be a big moment for the guys, but their focus right now is on building up our momentum and our form into the playoffs.”

CLOSING IN ON THE POINTS RECORD

The Reds currently sit on 65 points and have two games remaining to eclipse the league record for most points in a single season – the LA Galaxy collected 68 points during the 1998 campaign.

After TFC hosts the Impact this weekend, they’ll close out the season on the road vs Atlanta United FC on Oct. 22.

TFC Pitchside will provide Toronto FC supporters with an inside look into their favourite obsession Monday nights at 11 pm ET on Sportsnet 590 The FAN. Call it an all-access pass for all things MLS brought to you by co-hosts Dan Riccio, Thomas Michalakos and producer Amil Delic. You'll hear from the biggest names around the club, and the MLS. You'll also get reviews and previews of every TFC game with reports from Pitchside at training and on game days at BMO Field. The Six is about to get done!