Giovanni Savarese

Giovanni Savarese (born July 14, 1971) is a Venezuelan football manager and former player, who is the head coach for the Portland Timbers.

Giovanni Savarese
Savarese in 2014
Personal information
Full name Giovanni Savarese
Date of birth (1971-07-14) July 14, 1971
Place of birth Caracas, Venezuela
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Playing position Forward
Youth career
1977–1985 Centro Italiano Venezolano
College career
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1990–1993 LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1986–1989 Deportivo Italia 27 (7)
1990–1993 Greek American AA 45 (31)
1994–1995 Long Island Rough Riders 37 (27)
1996–1998 MetroStars 85 (41)
1998 Caracas 20 (18)
1999 New England Revolution 27 (10)
1999 Deportivo Táchira 5 (3)
2000 Perugia 0 (0)
2000Viterbese (loan) 7 (0)
2000 San Jose Earthquakes 4 (0)
2000–2001Swansea City (loan) 31 (11)
2001 Millwall 1 (0)
2002–2003 Deportivo Italchacao 22 (6)
2003 Sassari Torres 1 (0)
2004 Long Island Rough Riders 10 (5)
Total 322 (159)
National team
1989–2001 Venezuela 30 (10)
Teams managed
2013–2017 New York Cosmos
2018– Portland Timbers
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Club career

Professional Breakthrough

Savarese made his professional debut at 15, with Venezuelan club Deportivo Italia during the 1986–87 season. He remained with the club through the 1988–89 season, scoring six goals that year.

Move to the United States

In 1990, Savarese moved to the United States to play college soccer at Long Island University Brooklyn, while joining the storied amateur club Greek-American Atlas of the Cosmopolitan Soccer League during the long collegiate off-season.[1] He became one of the top scorers in school history with LIU, scoring 50 goals for the Blackbirds in his career. After college, Savarese signed with the Long Island Rough Riders of the USISL along with future MLS stars Tony Meola and Chris Armas, winning the league championship in 1995, a season in which he was also named league MVP.


Drafted by the New York/New Jersey MetroStars in the 9th round of the MLS Inaugural Player Draft, Savarese scored the first goal in club history in its inaugural match against the LA Galaxy on 13 April 1996. Savarese proved a prolific scorer during the 1996 season, scoring the next seven goals for the MetroStars and cementing his place in the team sheet. Savarese spent three seasons with the MetroStars, setting the long-standing club record for career goals in league play at 41, as well as the club scoring record across all competitions at 44. His record for league goals was broken in 2009 by Juan Pablo Angel. Savarese became a fan favorite, despite coming off the bench for long stretches of time. He was traded to the New England Revolution amid large fan outcry before the 1999 season and scored 10 goals for the Revs that year.

Additional Clubs

Departing MLS to sign for Serie A club Perugia in early 2000, Savarese spent his first stint in Europe loaned to Serie C club Viterbese for half a season, without being recalled to the Italian top division. He returned to MLS later in 2000 as a mid-season signing for the San Jose Earthquakes, but failed to score in four appearances that year. His luck improved after returning to Europe with Welsh club Swansea City in the English Second Division, tallying 14 goals across all competitions.

Savarese briefly transferred to Millwall before returning to his native Venezuela and signing for his boyhood club Deportivo Italia, then re-named Deportivo Itochalco.

After becoming an assistant coach at St. John's University, Savarese trialed with the MetroStars in 2003, but could not earn a place on the team. Following a sojourn back to Italy with Sassari Torres, he ended his playing career back in New York with the Rough Riders, then part of the USL Second Division.

Managerial career

MetroStars/Red Bulls

Savarese re-joined the MetroStars organization in 2005 as head of the club's successful youth development program, maintaining his role with through the Red Bull ownership transition before a philosophical conflict with the new management heralded his firing in March 2007.[2]

New York Cosmos

In August 2010, Savarese joined the New York Cosmos as Cosmos Academy director, with a focus on developing youth talent in New York in preparation for the club's return to professional competition.[3]

The Cosmos announced the promotion of Savarese to head coach on 19 November 2012. He quickly signed Long Island native Carlos Mendes as the modern club's first player in preparation for the team's debut in the NASL's 2013 Fall season.[4] On 3 August 2013, the Cosmos defeated the Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2–1 in the team's first professional match. During the 2013 season, Savarese led the Cosmos to an undefeated record at home (W-D-L: 5–2–0) and winners of the 2013 NASL Fall Season title with an overall record of 31 points from 14 games (W-D-L: 9–4–1). The Cosmos would cap the season with an appearance in the 2013 championship match, where they defeated the Atlanta Silverbacks 1–0.[5]

In 2014, Savarese managed the Cosmos to second place in the Spring season, finishing behind Minnesota by just 1 point. The Cosmos also took part in the U.S. Open Cup with Savarese leading the team to a convincing 3–0 fourth-round win over the New York Red Bulls in New York City's first-ever professional soccer derby on 14 June. The Cosmos would fall to eventual runners-up, the Philadelphia Union on 24 June in a 2–1 overtime defeat at PPL Park. After the end of the 2014 season, Savarese was offered the chance to interview for the vacant Houston Dynamo head coaching position. He declined, preferring to stay with the Cosmos.[6]

In 2015, Savarese led the Cosmos to an undefeated Spring, earning the title for the first half of the season. The team also defeated New York City FC in the US Open Cup in the first meeting between the two clubs. The Cosmos defeated the Ottawa Fury 3–2 in the 2015 NASL Championship Final to win their second league title since returning to professional competition.[7]

The Cosmos were runners-up in the 2016 Spring season, but rallied to claim the Fall title by ten points, and with it the combined season table. Savarese's club defeated Indy Eleven on penalty kicks in the 2016 NASL Championship Final, despite scheduling conflicts which forced the club to host the match at Belson Stadium in front of just 2,150 fans.[8] Following the 2016 season, Savarese emerged as a finalist for the head coaching job with MLS expansion club Minnesota United FC.[9] Talks with the new franchise fell apart when the Cosmos insisted on a transfer fee for releasing Savarese from the remainder of his contract, and the position went to Adrian Heath instead.[10][11]

After the 2016 season ended, the Cosmos nearly folded, terminating all player contracts.[12] Savarese took it upon himself to leverage his network of contacts to find new teams for his former players.[13] When the Cosmos were sold to a new investor, ensuring their survival, Savarese turned to re-signing many of the players who had been let go.[14]

Following the tumultuous off-season, the 2017 season proved the roughest yet for Savarese and the Cosmos as they struggled through the regular season and lost in the opening round of the U.S. Open Cup to NPSL club Reading United AC. Despite draws in 9 of 16 Fall season matches, the Cosmos qualified for the playoff and upset the top-seeded Miami FC away on penalty kicks.[15] The Cosmos season ended in a 2–0 loss to San Francisco Deltas in the playoff final.[16]

On December 13, 2017, the Cosmos announced that Savarese would leave the club "to pursue other coaching opportunities".[17]

Portland Timbers

On December 18, 2017, Savarese was announced as the head coach of the Portland Timbers, the third head coach in their MLS history.[18]

International career

Savarese earned 30 caps for Venezuela, scoring 10 goals – including 3 in World Cup qualifiers. His most notable goal was against Argentina in 1996.


Savarese works as a soccer analyst for ESPN International and ESPN Deportes.[19]



  • MLS All-Star: 1996
  • U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame: 2007

Head coach

New York Cosmos


Head coach

As of 21 July 2019 (all competitions)
Team From To Record
G W D L Win %
New York Cosmos 19 November 2012 13 December 2017 145 71 44 30 048.97
Portland Timbers 18 December 2017 Present 66 31 14 21 046.97
Career totals 190 95 55 40 050.00



  1. "". Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  3. "The New York Cosmos Goes Coast-to-Coast With Cosmos Academy" (PDF). New York Cosmos. August 25, 2010. Retrieved August 25, 2010.
  4. "New York Cosmos sign Carlos Mendes, start building roster". December 11, 2012. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  5. Lohr, Luke (November 10, 2013). "New York Cosmos claim 2013 NASL Soccer Bowl behind goal from Marcos Senna". Major League Soccer. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  6. Lovell, Darrell (November 25, 2014). "Houston Dynamo coaching list narrowed as Giovanni Savarese declines an interview". Major League Soccer. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  7. "Cosmos Win 2015 NASL Championship". Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  8. Lewis, Michael. "Cosmos beat Indy Eleven in penalty kicks to win NASL title". Newsday. Retrieved December 12, 2016.
  9. Wahl, Grant (November 2, 2016). "Minnesota has interest in Cosmos manager Savarese for MLS coaching job". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  10. Martinez, Dave (November 17, 2016). "Pay Up: Cosmos asking a transfer fee for Savarese". Empire of Soccer. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  11. Rueter, Jeff (November 17, 2016). "Adrian Heath, Former Orlando City Head Coach, To Take Charge Of Minnesota". Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  12. Martinez, Dave (December 8, 2016). "The End: Cosmos terminate all player contracts". Empire of Soccer. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  13. Martinez, Dave (December 8, 2016). "Still under Cosmos contract, Savarese carves out new role". Empire of Soccer. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  14. Nutting, Jake (January 10, 2017). "Calvillo, Ochieng, Richter Already Signed as Cosmos Begin Rebuild". Empire of Soccer. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  15. Nutting, Jake (November 5, 2017). "Cosmos Persevere Over Miami in Penalties, Advance to Final". Empire of Soccer. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  16. Echegaray, Luis Miguel (November 13, 2017). "San Francisco Deltas Beat New York Cosmos to Win NASL Championship". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  17. "GIOVANNI SAVARESE LEAVING NEW YORK COSMOS TO PURSUE OTHER COACHING OPPORTUNITIES". New York Cosmos. December 13, 2017. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  18. "Timbers name Giovanni Savarese head coach". Portland Timbers. December 18, 2017. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  19. "Giovanni Savarese – ESPN MediaZone". Retrieved December 13, 2017.
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