ATLANTA, Ga. — Watch a Portland Timbers match, and you will see manager Giovanni Savarese. He will most likely be wearing a blue suit. He’s not superstitious enough to wear the same suit every match, mind you, but he clearly has a preferred style, just like his teams.
According to Jamie Goldberg’s story in The Oregonian last month, Savarese owns an array of blue suits that he wears for good luck. But in a whimsical twist, Savarese said he doesn’t know what he’ll be wearing yet in the Timbers’ showdown vs. Atlanta United in Saturday’s 2018 MLS Cup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (8 pm ET | FOX, UniMás, TSN1, TVAS).
“I brought only two suits. Two blue suits,” Savarese quipped Friday before the team’s final training session.
Which one will he wear? “We'll see tomorrow,” Savarese said with a smile.
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His choice between two suits may be as unpredictable as the formation Savarese deploys Saturday to combat Atlanta United’s vaunted attack. In the teams’ regular season meeting in June, when Portland earned a deserved point in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Savarese fielded a back five. But Savarese’s team has struck a rich vein of form at the end of the season playing a 4-2-3-1.
“We’ve used different formations during the regular season, and our team is clear with the style of the play in either system,” said Timbers midfielder Diego Chara.
Defender Jorge Villafaña said that while the shape might force some players to have to focus on different priorities in what they bring to the team in the match, his side feels very capable of changing to whatever is needed.
“As a player, you have to be able to adapt to different formations and every changes that the coach [makes],” Villafaña told reporters Friday. “The team has adapted really well to the five and the four [defender systems], so either way, we're going to feel comfortable.”
Savarese will surely hope his players feel as comfortable in the team’s shape as he does in his crisp blue suit — no matter which one he chooses.