PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers have named Giovanni Savarese as the club’s head coach entering the 2018 MLS season, it was announced today. Savarese, the third head coach in the club’s MLS history, brings over 25 years of professional experience as a player and coach to the Timbers organization, most recently serving as the head coach and sporting director of the New York Cosmos where he led the club to three Soccer Bowl championships in five seasons in the North American Soccer League (NASL).
Savarese, 46, will be formally introduced as the Timbers new head coach during a press conference in early January.
“After an intense coach search, I am very pleased to introduce Gio Savarese as the head coach of the Portland Timbers,” said Merritt Paulson, owner of the Timbers. “Gio is an intelligent, attack-minded coach and is a driven individual who is both a great fit with us on and off the field. We are extremely pleased to welcome Gio and his family to Portland.”
“We are excited to bring Gio on board as the club’s head coach. Gio brings a wealth of experience across all levels of the game, and his playing philosophy aligns with the expectations of the club and suits the playing personnel,” said Gavin Wilkinson, general manager and president of soccer for the Timbers. “His leadership and man-management, coupled with his core values and previous accomplishments, made him the right fit for this club, and we are delighted to welcome him to the Timbers.”
A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Savarese joins the Timbers after spending the past five seasons as the head coach and sporting director of the New York Cosmos, where he developed one of the most successful clubs in the NASL, compiling a 65-26-44 record in 135 regular-season games, including a career-best 20-7-5 record in 2016 and an undefeated NASL Spring Season in 2015. Additionally, the Cosmos scored 223 goals during Savarese’s five seasons at the helm, which rank as the most in the NASL during that stretch. Savarese also led the Cosmos to four Soccer Bowl appearances, claiming the 2013, 2015 and 2016 championships. Most recently, after a 10-7-15 record in the 2017 regular season, Savarese guided the Cosmos to their third straight appearance in the NASL championship match, narrowly falling 2-0 to the San Francisco Deltas.
“I am both excited and proud to become the head coach of the Portland Timbers, and this is an ideal fit and outstanding opportunity for me as I take the next step in my coaching career,” Savarese said. “The passion, ambition and support surrounding this club is truly inspiring, and I am sincerely honored and grateful for this opportunity to lead it on the pitch and to build on the club’s history of success for the community and the incredible supporters of the Portland Timbers.”
Prior to joining the Cosmos organization, Savarese, who holds a USSF “A” license, served as the head of youth development for the New York MetroStars/Red Bulls from 2005-2007, before joining the Cosmos as the club’s academy director in 2010, with a focus on developing youth talent in the greater New York area. Savarese served as the Cosmos academy director for two years before being announced as the head coach of the first Cosmos team in 28 years on November 19, 2012.
Savarese enjoyed an 18-year professional playing career, including five seasons in Major League Soccer, scoring 159 goals in 322 games played in various leagues in the United States, Venezuela, Italy and England. At the international level, Savarese earned 30 caps for the Venezuela National Team from 1989-2001, scoring 10 goals, including a notable finish against South American rival Argentina in 1996.
After beginning his professional career in Venezuela with Deportivo Italia in 1986, Savarese spent five seasons (1990-95) playing in the Cosmopolitan Soccer League and the USISL before being drafted by the MetroStars in the inaugural MLS SuperDraft in 1996 as the ninth overall selection, notching a team-record 41 goals and 94 points in 85 regular-season appearances during three seasons with the club. The striker’s record stood until 2009 when it was surpassed by Juan Pablo Angel.
Following his three seasons with the MetroStars, Savarese spent the 1999 MLS campaign with the New England Revolution, scoring 10 goals in 27 appearances. Shortly afterward, Savarese joined Italian Serie A club A.C. Perugia and was loaned to A.S. Viterbese in 2000, before returning stateside to join the San Jose Earthquakes in the 2000 MLS season. After a brief stint with the Earthquakes, Savarese joined Swansea City where he scored 14 goals across all competitions, prior to signing with Millwall F.C. in 2001. Following short spells with Venezuelan club Deportivo Italchacao and Italian club Sassari Torres, Savarese’s playing career concluded in 2004 after scoring five goals in 10 appearances with the Long Island Rough Riders.
In the collegiate ranks, Savarese enjoyed a four-year (1990-93) playing career with Long Island University after moving to the United States from Venezuela in 1990. Savarese has also served as a member of the media, working as an analyst for ESPN International and ESPN Deportes.
Giovanni and his wife, Michelle, have two daughters, Valentina and Alessandra.
Pronunciation: joh-VAHN-nee / SA-vah-RAY-say