Giovanni Savarese: “Soccer can be cruel because only one can win. And when it’s in PKs, it’s even worse.” (John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
PORTLAND – And the quest continues.
Head coach Giovanni Savarese, who directed the Cosmos to three North American Soccer League titles, is still searching for his first in Major League Soccer.
In 2018, Savarese’s Portland Timbers lost at Atlanta United in the MLS Cup final, 2-0.
On their home field, Providence Park, on Saturday, the Timbers came oh so close, losing in a shootout to New York City FC, 4-2, after playing to a 1-1 tie over 120 minutes.
“Soccer can be cruel because only one can win. And when it’s in PKs, it’s even worse,” Savarese said during a postgame press conference. “So I have to make sure that we don’t forget the most important part, is that this game today showed why it’s in the final, why we fought through a difficult season. For me, they are champions. But it’s difficult not to lift the trophy at home.”
Entering the match, Savarese held a unique personal supremacy over NYCFC, having eliminated the Bronx side from three consecutive cup competitions. That includes a pair of Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup wins (2015, 2016) and a quarterfinal victory in the 2020 MLS Is Back tournament, which the Timbers won.
“It feels cruel, it feels sour, it feels difficult to accept,” Savarese said. “So before we learn something from it, we need to feel and understand the emotions that we’re going to have after this match, not to achieve what was our goal to lift a trophy at home. We couldn’t have thought about a more beautiful situation for us than lifting the trophy.”
Savarese, who had called New York home for more than three decades while playing for Long Island University, Long Island Rough Riders and MetroStars and coaching several teams, including the Cosmos, won’t have much time to bemoan the final loss. Training for the 2022 season will begin next month.
“As I believe every experience enriches in you, in anything you have to do, it’s not only about your career and the things that each player will do and also as a team and me as a coach – these are learning lessons for life as well,” he said. “That’s why soccer is so important and that’s why soccer has such a passion from us to give because we understand these moments change us because you learn so much.
“But before we learn we have to still sink and manage the emotions that unfortunately we will have from now until who knows when about not achieving this goal and celebrating the championship at home.”