Former Cosmos Head Coach Giovanni Savarese Guides Portland Timbers Into MLS Final

Savarese won three titles in five seasons in New York
Dec 7, 2018
If there's a soccer championship to be played, there is a good chance that Giovanni Savarese will be sitting on one of the benches guiding one of the finalists that day.
For the fifth time in the past six seasons, the former Cosmos head coach will direct a team in a title match when his Portland Timbers take on Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Savarese coached the Cosmos into the North American Soccer League's Championship Final four times over five years, having watched his team take the final victory lap of the season three times.
"We've definitely worked so hard to have arrive at this stage," Savarese said. "The guys have believed all along, during the season, especially in the playoffs, that this was a possibility for us, as long as we did things as a group. Now that we've arrived there, we're not only satisfied to get to the MLS Cup, but also we want to give everything we have in this final match."
Actually, this is the second time a Savarese-led team has battled for a league crown in this northern Georgia city. In 2013, the Cosmos defeated the Atlanta Silverbacks, 1-0, on Marcos Senna's free-kick goal in front of 7,211 fans. It was the club's first national championship since the 1982 season.
A crowd 10 times that size is expected for Saturday.
Atlanta finished second in the Eastern Conference regular-season race to the Red Bulls before besting its New York rivals in the conference final, 3-1. Portland finished fifth in the Western Conference.
The hosts boast a lethal attack led by striker Josef Martinez and midfielder Miguel Almiron.
"We understand very clearly they have a very good team, a team that will be very strong," Savarese said. "They'll have to great crowd that will cheer for them, with a great coach, good players, and that will be more motivation for our players to want to be there. I'm just very proud of the season so far and the way the players have given everything for this club and also the fans, how much they have put their passion to make sure we arrived here today."
There are certain aspects of the MLS Cup that are different to Savarese, some that are the same. During Savarese's tenure, the Cosmos also won titles in 2015 and 2016, while losing to the San Francisco Deltas in the 2017 final. New York was eliminated in the 2014 semifinals.
Both teams will be under great scrutiny for the Major League Soccer title.
"There's similar work that you have to do to get to any final in the same thinking process that you have. The more that you've been there, definitely gives you experiences of things that you feel can help and things maybe that you should have done that also has given you that experience.
"So for me, the first year has been great to make it all the way, mostly because of the work the guys have done. They have believed all long that they could have achieved this that they put the work to be able to be there and something that could make us be very proud."
Savarese and the Timbers, though, know they have a tall order ahead to defeat Atlanta in the final. If one thing has been learned from Saverese's time with the Cosmos and his first in Portland, never count him out in big games. 
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