New York: Italian Sebastian Giovinco's second hat-trick of the season led Toronto FC to a 4-1 triumph over the New England Revolution and boosted his hopes of becoming Major League Soccer's (MLS) first ever back-to-back MVP on Saturday.
The comprehensive win left Toronto (10-7-6) on 36 points, just one shy of first-placed New York City FC.
The striker, who burst onto the MLS scene last year with an MVP season, is the league's leading scorer with 15 goals - two more than New York City's David Villa.
"I'm at my best stage. At 27-28 years old until 34 or 35 should be the best years of football," the 29-year-old Giovinco told reporters through a translator.
"(Scoring goals) is a bit of an instinct. Sometimes, some of the moments if I think too much I'll miss. Other moments I don't think at all and it just happens."
The scores came in a variety of ways against New England as Giovinco put in a rebound in the 20th minute, curled in a shot from outside the box in the 29th and added a penalty kick in the 76th.
Giovinco is not shy about pursuing the Golden Boot for the league's top scorer and could create a league record by again becoming the league's best player.
"It's nice to have some objectives. Last year it was one of my objectives (to lead in scoring)," Giovinco said. "If you can do it you might as well go for it and that way you can say you tried."
In other matches, Montreal defeated Houston 1-0 to move into third in the East, second-placed Colorado Rapids beat Vancouver 2-0 and Real Salt Lake topped Chicago Fire 3-1 while DC United and Philadelphia Union tied 2-2.