After nearly a week of reports and rumors, the Portland Timbers officially announced the hiring of Giovanni Savarese as the club’s new head coach on Monday.
Savarese 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, in a statement provided by the team. “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.”
A Venezuelan international and distinguished scorer during his own 18-year playing career, which included 52 goals in 121 MLS regular-season and playoff appearances with the MetroStars (now New York Red Bulls), New England Revolution and San Jose Earthquakes, Savarese becomes the third full-time head coach of the Timbers’ MLS era, succeeding Caleb Porter, who departed Portland shortly after the conclusion of their 2017 campaign.
The 46-year-old arrives from the NASL’s New York Cosmos, where he enjoyed five years of sustained success in a variety of circumstances, leading the Cosmos to league championships in 2013, 2015 and 2016 as well as a trip to this year’s championship game, where they fell to the San Francisco Deltas. He departs the club with an overall regular-season record of 65-26-51.
“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.”
Though born in Caracas, Savarese carries a deep knowledge of the US soccer landscape. He played college soccer at Long Island University and coached in the MetroStars’ and Cosmos’ youth systems before ascending to the professional level. He also logged extended time abroad as a player, most prominently with Swansea City and Millwall in Great Britain.
“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.”
MLS Cup winners under Porter in 2015, the Timbers finished first in the MLS Western Conference standings during the 2017 season but fell to the underdog Houston Dynamo in the conference semifinal round of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, wracked by a devastating postseason injury crisis. Playmaker Diego Valeri won this year's Landon Donovan MLS MVP award, while influential midfielder Darlington Nagbe left the club via a blockbuster trade with Atlanta United last week.