Giovanni Savarese said 2017 “probably [was] the most difficult season I had to deal with in my time with the Cosmos.” (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
Few professional coaches had to endure what Giovanni Savarese had to in 2017.
He started the year without a team before the Cosmos were purchased by Rocco B. Commisso.
Despite having only three players under contract in mid-January, Savarese rebuilt the North American Soccer League team, although there were several hiccups along the way.
He guided the team into the playoffs — The Championship — on the last day of the season, concocted a strategy to eliminate runaway regular-season champion Miami FC in the semifinals before falling to the San Francisco Deltas, 2-0, in the final.
So, it should not be surprising Savarese Wednesday was named the FrontRowSoccer.com’s pro coach of the year for the New York/New Jersey area for 2017.
While he directed the Cosmos to NASL titles in three of the previous four seasons, 2017 was Savarese’s best coaching job.
“It was a very, very difficult season,” he said, “probably the most difficult season I had to deal with in my time with the Cosmos.”
When asked what he learned, Savarese replied, “I think the first thing is, for sure, for me a PhD. degree. We tried so many formations and systems. We tried to incorporate whatever we could to be competitive in the beginning. That took a lot from us to be able to think, ‘Is his going to work? Is that one going to work?’
“Getting to know the players more and more and more in a preseason [when] we couldn’t have everybody. Always trying players. It was good to try so many different things.”
It wasn’t until the fall season that the Cosmos found their rhythm as Savarese used seven formations and styles of play en route to a 10-7-15 mark. Many of those draws were at home.
“They were very resilient,” he said. “They tried to learn. We tried to have continuity towards the end. We had continuity in the 4-4-2, which I think was the best system that we found. The good thing is once we changed from a 3-5-2, we mostly played 4-4-2 and we found finally consistency, what we were looking for.
Now, Savarese has another challenge. He will vie for another championship in a new league — with the Portland Timbers in Major League Soccer.