Toronto FC spent big during the lead-up to the 2015 MLS season, as it splurged on the attacking talents of Jozy Altidore and Giovinco. Inherently, the storyline following the Reds in nearly every match has been the performance of the American striker and Italian striker, as well as how midfielder Michael Bradley supports them.
Then, in Saturday night's 1-1 draw, the New England Revolution saw the aforementioned combinations play out in full force, as the trio threatened the Revs' back-line throughout the entire evening.
Altidore, who went down with a hamstring injury in the early portions of the first half, displayed the strength that has come to define his play, Giovinco fired off several strong shots, and Bradley nabbed the equalizer in the 53rd minute on a crusading run through the Revs' defense.
In spite of all of that, the back-line still feels that it was able to assert itself onto the game and contain the attacking potential Altidore, Giovinco, and Bradley possess.
"We did well and tried to limit them offensively," said Andrew Farrell. "You know, Giovinco is a really tough player to defend and I think the back-line, whether it was Jose (Goncalves), me, London (Woodberry), or Chris (Tierney), and even help from Scotty (Caldwell) or (Andy) Dorman, we limited their chances and we kept it in front of the 18 for a while."
Farrell's sentiments are backed up by the stat sheet, as the Revs held Toronto's high-priced and potent attack to only nine shots throughout the entire contest. Although seven of them were on target, Bobby Shuttleworth was rarely under considerable siege.
A major part of that was the reinsertion of Goncalves along the back-line, as the Portuguese center-back is now fully recovered from a calf injury that previously plagued him. He combined with Farrell in the heart of the defense and the duo appear to have put their early season mishaps in the rearview mirror.
"It was good," Farrell said of Goncalves presence. "He's a good player, is very vocal, and that facilitates him coming and sliding back in there. I think we did well and there was that one play where we broke down, and it happens in soccer. After that we switched back on with a short memory and got back at it."
Attempting to prevent the Revs' back-line from settling down and making Shuttleworth's night as difficult as possible was the pesky presence of Giovinco. As promising as the Italian's first hour of play was, the last 30 minutes of play proved to be some of his best.
As Toronto sat deeper and deeper to absorb the home side's pursuit of a late winner, Giovinco was sprung forward on the counter attack on multiple occasions. Through darting runs and deceptively strong hold-up play, he sought a winner of his own, but Farrell and Goncalves contained him as the match wore on.
A defining reason for that was the duo's speed and strength, but more importantly they covered for each other's mistakes and thrived off the competition Toronto's forwards demanded.
"As a defender that's fun, you like to play against those guys," Farrell said. "It's tough for Jozy and hopefully he gets well, but it's fun. Giovinco is a class player - he turns you, he's fast, he's quick, and has a great left foot and a great right foot. It's fun to play against those guys and...we kept them to one goal on offense with all of their talent."
The Revs defense will now look to build off its efforts against Giovinco, Altidore, and Bradley, as they will try to contain on Wednesday night a Sporting Kansas City attacking force that is spearheaded by Dom Dwyer and Benny Feilhaber.