Giovanni Savarese scored eight of the first nine goals in our club's history. The current Portland Timbers Head Coach played three seasons for our club, notching 6,425 minutes, 44 goals and 13 assists.
Among the many goals, the chilena he scored against the Tampa Bay Mutiny in 1996 remains as one of the most esteemed goals in club history.
“Whenever I had the opportunity to enter the game, at the start, towards the end or in the midway point, whenever possible, I wanted to step in and try to change the game,” said Savarese. “To help my team and convince the group to work hard to achieve results, and try to get goals.”
For Savarese, to live the early years of MLS marked him greatly, as did to hold one of the foreigner slots in the team. All these responsibilities pushed him to always deliver results on the field.
“It was an important period for me, in a league that was starting, knowing that I was part of something special that was beginning, a league in the United States, the MLS, that I was part of this league that was beginning to grow in the United States,” said Savarese. “To be one of the pioneers, not only as a foreign player, but at that time also trying to be an example for Venezuela, which at the time didn’t have the respect it has now.
“It was not easy, opening paths, so it was an important challenge for me to open that path for those who came behind and connect directly with fans. And be able to work with managers such as Carlos Alberto Parreira, [Carlos] Queiroz, Alfonso [Mondelo], among others. For me it was a great learning experience, a great time period in my playing career, where I felt very good, where I felt very close to a team that’s still in my heart. It was a special period in all aspects, and one that I remember with lots of appreciation.”
Although he had five coaches in three years with the MetroStars, something that is not so common, Savarese tried to make the best of each case and began to observe the game as a coach.
“In one aspect it was not positive because having five coaches in three years isn’t ideal, but at the same time they gave us the opportunity to learn from so many good coaches, which was very important to me,” said Savarese. “As a manager nowadays, that period made me grow a lot, made me understand many things, especially me because I always wanted to analyze the managers’ work, always trying to understand why they did certain things. All this helped me a lot to grow, especially because of the quality of the managers who won important championships - World Cups, Olympics - managers with a lot of experience, and they were with us. ”
Many years ago, Savarese worked hard to put the name of Venezuelan soccer at the very top in the club and the league, now that responsibility belongs to Cristian Cásseres Jr., whom Savarese sees as one of the best talents of La Vinotinto.
“Credit to Red Bulls, who were able to bring in a great player because Cristian is one of the best talents and best prospects that we have in Venezuela,” highlighted Savarese. “I was fortunate to play with his dad, he was a great goalscorer, played more ahead, different position, he was very fast, and he had a lot of passion for soccer. I’m very happy to see Cristian succeed at Red Bulls with a former teammate of mine, Chris Armas, whom I respect a lot. I hope that he’s not the last one, I want to see more Venezuelans in this league and see them succeed.”
Years will pass, and when our club remembers its first days in MLS, Savarese will always appear, celebrating those first goals that will forever have a special place in our history books.