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Portland Timbers part ways with head coach Giovanni Savarese
The Gio era in Portland ends after nearly six years.
Coming off of a brutal 5-0 thrashing in Houston, the Portland Timbers announced that they have parted ways with head coach Giovanni Savarese.
“We are incredibly grateful for the commitment that Gio has given to the Portland Timbers over that last six seasons, and it has been an honor to have had the chance to work with him,” Ned Grabavoy said in a club statement Monday afternoon.
“I believe the club is ready for a new direction and voice to help lead us forward.”
The Timbers have been mired in a disappointing 2023 season, after missing out on the playoffs by one point in 2022. They currently sit 12th in the Western Conference on 26 points with ten games remaining in the season.
Assistant coach Miles Joseph will serve as interim manager for the remainder of the 2023 season while the club begins a head coaching search.
“This moment serves as a chance for our club to reset with a goal of reestablishing our ability to consistently compete at the highest level,” Grabavoy shared in the press release.
Of note is that Joseph was given the interim tag instead of Carlos Llamosa, the assistant coach who had been the usual stand-in for when Savarese was suspended or unavailable. The press release made no mention of Llamosa or his future with the team.
Savarese leaves Portland as the winningest head coach in Timbers history. Since joining the team as head coach prior to the 2018 season, Savarese amassed a 74-62-47 record, leading the team to two MLS Cup final appearances in 2018 and 2021. He also led the team to the MLS is Back tournament crown in 2020.
Savarese was appointed head coach in December of 2017, becoming the third permanent head coach in Portland’s MLS history after spending five years with the NASL’s New York Cosmos.
His Timbers teams were always defined by fight and heart — and it has been clear this season that those elements have been absent. His final game in charge will go down as his worst loss as Portland’s head coach, and that game was emblematic of the lack of commitment his team was showing.
Plus, the latter months of his time at the helm were marked by high-profile and public disagreements with a number of players. That included midfielder Eryk Williamson at the tail end of 2022, goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic at the beginning of 2023, and winger Santiago Moreno last month.
And so, despite signing him to a contract extension last year, Grabavoy made the call to dismiss the Timbers head coach. Savarese will no doubt have a number of suitors in American soccer and MLS, due to his success and experience in the league.
For the Timbers, they are now left to search for the new person in charge. Ned Grabavoy’s biggest call in his young tenure as GM will immediately be followed by his most important decision: who will be the next Portland Timbers head coach?
The Timbers are next in action on Saturday, August 26 when they face the Vancouver Whitecaps at 7:30 p.m. at Providence Park.