Giovanni Savarese: “I think that for me it was an embarrassing match because at a point we had the game in control.” (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
HARRISON, N.J. — This was not exactly the way Giovanni Savarese envisioned his return to the metropolitan area was going to be, no way.
He and his Portland Timbers team left Red Bull Arena down-trodden after the Red Bulls cruised to a 4-0 triumph Saturday. It was a difficult result and performance to watch for a coach who had won three championships in the past four seasons with the Cosmos.
“I think that for me it was an embarrassing match because at a point we had the game in control,” Savarese said. “We could have won this match if we wanted to. we allowed them to get the better of it because they wanted it more. When a team steps on the field wanting it more, they deserve to win.”
The match was set for the Timbers to win. They deployed a solid Starting XI. The Red Bulls? They used primarily a second-team lineup that included four Homegrown players and three regulars.
Savarese had no doubt on what went wrong for his team, which found itself trailing 1-0 at the interval after a fairly solid opening half. Then the roof fell in on his side, conceding three goals over the final 13 minutes.
“It’s the attitude. the attitude was better from them,” he said. There were moments that we looked like we were in control. This game we could have won if we wanted to. As soon as they scored the second goal, we gave up. That’s one thing we need to improve. We have to continue to work. If we want to be the type of team that wants to win a championship, we need to do a lot more work. But most of all, we have to have more attitude.
“Red Bull, the players that came in, they had the better mentality. They knew how to fight for each other They played for the team, and at the end, that paid dividends.”
So how does a team get that proper mentality?
“We’re starting,” Savarese said. “This is the beginning of the process. This is when it becomes better for the coach, to make his decision, to make more work, because for the fans of Portland, the Timbers, this is not good enough. They deserve a lot more and we need to do a better job in order we make sure we represent them in the best possible way.”
After dropping their first two matches, Savarese and the Timbers get an opportunity to catch their breath and reset things with a bye week. They won’t have to play against they visit FC Dallas March 24.
“We have more time to prepare,” Savarese said. “So the guys need to be hungry. I can’t wait to start working the next practice. We have to be better. We need to improve.”
Afterwards, Savarese was greeted by many friends and colleagues from New York and New Jersey. Newly named Cosmos B head coach Carlos Mendes, who captained the Cosmos’ three North American Soccer League championships under Savarese, was one of those who talked to him.
“It’s always great to come back to New York,” he said. “A good feeling to see so many good people, people that I know for a long time. This is a club that I know very well. It is always a pleasure to come to New York.”
And as it turns out, a pleasure to watch the son of a former teammate, Derrick Etienne, Jr. Savarese played with his father, Derrick Etienne, on the Long Island Rough Riders in 2004. Etienne helped set up the Red Bulls’ first goal
When asked about the young Etienne’s performance, Savarese, replied, “Oh, fantastic. He played really well. He’s a good player. I think he has a bright future.”
Savarese hopes to be able to say that about the Timbers very soon.