When Giovanni Savarese stepped onto the sideline on Saturday evening, it was with a heavy heart.
Earlier that day, the Portland Timbers head coach learned that his father, Carlo, had passed away, though not before Savarese had been able to visit him in Italy earlier that week. He'd missed the Timbers' U.S. Open Cup victory over LAFC on Wednesday for that trip, returning for their league match against Colorado. And when Portland took the lead against the Rapids, the team made sure to let their coach know they had his back:
“I didn’t expect it, to be honest. I didn’t expect that,” Savarese said after the game of his team's celebration “They came in, it was for me a little bit emotional seeing the guys come and give their support after the goal.”
The emotion didn't stop there. After the game, the Timbers Army gave some full-throated support for their grieving coach:
In addition to the chants of "Gio!" that rang out, the TA gave him white roses after the game and prominently displayed a sign supporting their beloved coach, who took the team to an MLS Cup final in his first year in charge in 2018.
“It was a weird night. A weird night, but you have so many great things,” Savarese told reporters after the game. “The fans — I cannot say more. I thank them for everything they were giving me, how they were supporting me, it was incredible. Thank you to the Timbers Army, thank you to the organization, to everyone involved for making sure that this night felt special.”