Portland Timbers part ways with head coach Giovanni Savarese

Gio Savarese POR

The Portland Timbers have parted ways with head coach Giovanni Savarese, the club announced Monday evening.

Portland, in danger of a second straight Audi MLS Cup Playoffs miss after hosting MLS Cup in 2021, sit 12th in the Western Conference table (6W-10L-8D record, 26 points). They are five points off the postseason pace with 10 games to go, concluding with Decision Day on October 21.

Assistant coach Miles Joseph will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of Portland’s 2023 season.

“Gio has been an exceptional coach for the Timbers and a joy to work with,” owner Merritt Paulson said in a release. “He has achieved some fabulous results during his tenure with the club, including two MLS Cup appearances and the MLS is Back championship. I want to thank Gio for all that he has given us. He will be missed.”

The Venezuelan manager led the Timbers since the 2018 MLS season, compiling a 74W-62L-47D record in five-plus years at the helm. His tenure was highlighted by two MLS Cup appearances (2018, '21), as well as the MLS is Back Tournament title in 2020.

Savarese, 52, was Portland's third all-time head coach after the club was previously led by Caleb Porter and John Spencer. The Pacific Northwest-based side entered MLS in 2011 as an expansion team.

“We are incredibly grateful for the commitment that Gio has given to the Portland Timbers over the last six seasons, and it has been an honor to have had the chance to work with him,” said general manager Ned Grabavoy. “His success during his time with the club speaks for itself, and we wish Gio the best moving forward."

Portland have been in a transitional phase since after the 2021 campaign, when club legend Diego Valeri departed. This offseason, they sought to bridge the gap by acquiring Brazilian midfielder Evander for a reported club-record $10 million transfer fee.

The Timbers undoubtedly have a talented roster, headlined by Evander, fullback Juan David Mosquera, midfielder Diego Chara and more. But the pieces haven’t quite gelled in 2023, as they’re yet to string together a winning streak and exited both Leagues Cup and the US Open Cup in the Round of 32. Their 38 goals against are tied for the worst total in the Western Conference.

At their peak, Portland are routinely a must-watch team when combining their on-field product and raucous crowds at Providence Park. Now, the club seems set to chart a new course towards 2024 and beyond.

“I believe the club is ready for a new direction and voice to help lead us forward," said Grabavoy. "Miles Joseph will take over as interim head coach as we begin our process to identify who will help lead our team in the years ahead. This moment serves as a chance for our club to reset, with a goal of reestablishing our ability to consistently compete at the highest level."