Giovanni Savarese: “Not being able to continue in the NASL is something you don’t want to see. So many people had done so much and put in so much effort.” (Photo by Joy Rubenstein)
By Michael Lewis
He may be some 3,000 or so miles away these days, but in many ways Giovanni Savarese’s heart is still in New York.
And what he has seen happen to his former club, the Cosmos, has left him with a heavy heart.
The Cosmos won’t play this year as the North American Soccer League announced it won’t hold its 2018 seasonin the wake of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s decision to rescind its Division Two status.
“There is no doubt there is a level of sadness because of everything we lived with the Cosmos,” the Portland Timbers head coach said by telephone Wednesday night. “Not being able to continue in the NASL is something you don’t want to see. So many people had done so much and put in so much effort.”
Savarese then mentioned the names of the team’s three owners — Paul Kemsley, Seamus O’Brien and Rocco B. Commisso, the current boss, saying they “have tried to make sure the club survived and continues that it’s competitive.”
“We had so many great moments and so many difficult moments as well, but you never want to see a place where you had so many good experiences finishing the way right now or going through right now. Hopefully, there’s a positive future, hopefully, there is something they can figure out. But they always will have a special part in my heart for the time that I was there.”
During his five-year Cosmos tenure, the club captured the NASL championship three times and reached the 2017 final before losing to the San Francisco Deltas. Savarese left the team to coach the Timbers during the offseason.
So, not surprisingly, he took away countless good times and memories from the club.
“Wow! There’s so many,” said Savarese, who returns to the metropolitan area to coach against the Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena Saturday night. “I don’t think I can say there was one that better than another. There were so many great moments. How can you say that one is better than the other?
“How can you say having dinner with Carlos Alberto and he’s telling you the story of his life in soccer is better than sitting down with Pele and talking about his experiences with the Cosmos? And how can that be better than traveling to Dubai with the whole team to play matches and going to Qatar to convince Raul to come to New York. And seeing some players to go through the Comsos and continue to be successful. There’s great memories, so many good things we went through. Of course, I always have to throw in some difficulties as well because not everything was easy. But there’s so many, many great memories.”