When Giovanni Savarese prepared for his first MLS game in charge of the Portland Timbers in March, he was asked if there was any surprises so far in his few months as a new head coach in the league.
The former New York Cosmos boss, making his jump from the NASL to MLS, could think of one thing.
"Maybe [what surprised me] is how well the groundskeeper kept the field perfect for when we had training," Savarese said in March. "They are very good at what they do."
Savarese has acclimated himself to the league quite well and is in a position just one other first-year MLS head coach has been in the last decade: preparing for MLS Cup.
In 2016, Brian Schmetzer took charge of the Seattle Sounders midseason and took the club on a storybook run, culminating with winning MLS Cup. He's the only other first-year manager in MLS to make the final in the last 10 years before Savarese. Schmetzer, like Savarese, had prior coaching experience below MLS, spending 2002-09 in charge of the Sounders in their USL days.
Schmetzer, like Savarese, navigated through the Knockout Round in his first year in MLS as well as being the underdog the next two rounds before hitting the road for the MLS Cup final. The Sounders prevailed over favored Toronto FC 0(5)-0(4) in penalties.
First-year MLS head coaches to make MLS Cup (last 10 years)
|Year||Team||Coach||MLS Cup result?|
|2016||Seattle Sounders||Brian Schmetzer||Def. TFC 0(5)-0(4)|
|2018||Portland Timbers||Gio Savarese||TBD|
When expanding the parameters to coaches in their first year with a new club, though who has coached in the league before, the list doesn't get much longer. In fact, it grows by just one: Juan Carlos Osorio brought the New York Red Bulls to the 2008 MLS Cup final in his first full season with the club, though lost to Columbus Crew SC.
Will Savarese keep making history in 2018?