Giovanni Savarese "had a feeling" Steve Clark would save Chicharito's PK attempt

Giovanni Savarese got a tad excited when Steve Clark denied Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez from the penalty kick spot Monday night at the MLS is Back Tournament.

The Portland Timbers head coach’s reaction was caught on camera, and it quickly spread across social media. But there was more to it, with Savarese saying after the 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy that he had advice for Sebastian Blanco and overall suspicion.

“I just saw it, so it was pretty funny,” Savarese said of the video. “I was feeling the moment, I really had a feeling that he was going to save it. I even told [Blanco] to be ready a little bit higher, that when he saves it he can play you the ball in behind.”

Blanco recorded one goal and one assist to be named Man of the Match presented by Heineken, but the game could have gone far differently had the Galaxy striker deposited from 12 yards past Clark. Facing a 1-0 uphill climb, of course, presents entirely different challenges than looking to break a scoreless deadlock.

Clark also followed up the PK stop by going into a full split, robbing Sacha Kljestan's doorstep rebound.

“That was a key moment in the game, for sure, a key moment for us to have saved that goal from coming in, kept us in the game and then in the second half being able to create those chances that put us on top of the match,” Savarese said. “Phenomenal, phenomenal moment for Steve Clark.”

Beyond the PK save, Savarese also hailed the veteran presence of Blanco, Diego Chara, Diego Valeri and Larys Mabiala. They’ve combined for nearly 650 MLS appearances, and each player is 32 years or older. 

But instead of declining, that group remains foundational for Portland’s aspirations. They could buoy hopes of a deep run at the tournament, too.

“That experience that we have with Valeri, [Blanco], Chara, Mabiala and others in this type of competition, in playoff time, they step it up,” Savarese said. “They bring with them also the younger players as well. So, I think today all around it was a good performance. We can still be better in some areas, but I think overall it was a deserved win for us."

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