Timbers introduce Gio to Portland

New Portland coach talks of his first experiences in the Rose City
By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports.com

PORTLAND - Giovanni Savarese said all the right things in all the right ways during his first press conference as head coach of the Portland Timbers Monday at Providence Park.

Savarese flew into Portland this past weekend and has been getting a fast introduction to the city, including getting his hair cut.

"The lady cutting my hair asked where I was from because of my accent," said Savarese, a native of Venezuela who speaks four languages. "She told me it was easy to spot because I had walked in with an umbrella. I know now people from here don't use umbrellas."

Savarese is the team's third head coach, and follows Caleb Porter, who guided the team to the MLS Cup title in 2015. Porter left the franchise following the 2017 season after a dispute with management.

After five seasons as coach of the New York Cosmos in the North American Soccer League, which came with three league titles, Savarese, 46, said the move to Portland was the right fit.

"This is a great franchise, and I think any coach would love to be here," he said during the 25-minute press conference. "I've had other opportunites to move from the Cosmos, but this just felt like the right move at the right time."

Portland begins it's eighth season in Major League Soccer March 4 in Los Angeles against the Galaxy, and plays its first home game April 12 against Minnesota.


Savarese ready for Portland intro

Timbers get 2018 moving with new coach, schedule
Staff report

PORTLAND - The Portland Timbers plan to introduce new head coach Giovanni Savarese to the public Monday through a press conference at Providence Park. This comes a week after announcing the team’s schedule for the 2018 season that begins March 4 in Los Angeles against the Galaxy, and at home April 12 against Minnesota.

A Venezuelan international and distinguished scorer during his own 18-year playing career, which included 52 goals in 121 MLS regular-season and playoff appearances with the MetroStars (now New York Red Bulls), New England Revolution and San Jose Earthquakes, Savarese becomes the third full-time head coach of the Timbers’ MLS era, succeeding Caleb Porter, who departed Portland shortly after the conclusion of their 2017 campaign.

The 46-year-old arrives from the NASL’s New York Cosmos, where he enjoyed five years of sustained success in a variety of circumstances, leading the Cosmos to league championships in 2013, 2015 and 2016 as well as a trip to this year’s championship game, where they fell to the San Francisco Deltas. He departs the club with an overall regular-season record of 65-26-51.

“We are excited to bring Gio on board as the club’s head coach. Gio brings a wealth of experience across all levels of the game, and his playing philosophy aligns with the expectations of the club and suits the playing personnel,” said Gavin Wilkinson, general manager and president of soccer for the Timbers. “His leadership and man-management, coupled with his core values and previous accomplishments, made him the right fit for this club, and we are delighted to welcome him to the Timbers.”

Though born in Caracas, Savarese carries a deep knowledge of the US soccer landscape. He played college soccer at Long Island University and coached in the MetroStars’ and Cosmos’ youth systems before ascending to the professional level. He also logged extended time abroad as a player, most prominently with Swansea City and Millwall in Great Britain.

“I am both excited and proud to become the head coach of the Portland Timbers, and this is an ideal fit and outstanding opportunity for me as I take the next step in my coaching career,” Savarese said. “The passion, ambition and support surrounding this club is truly inspiring, and I am sincerely honored and grateful for this opportunity to lead it on the pitch and to build on the club’s history of success for the community and the incredible supporters of the Portland Timbers.”

MLS Cup winners under Porter in 2015, the Timbers finished first in the MLS Western Conference standings during the 2017 season but fell to the underdog Houston Dynamo in the conference semifinal round of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, wracked by a devastating postseason injury crisis. Playmaker Diego Valeri won this year’s Landon Donovan MLS MVP award, while influential midfielder Darlington Nagbe left the club via a blockbuster trade with Atlanta United last week.

MLS honors Valeri, Portland

Portland's top scorer and community hero earns MVP Award
By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports.com

PORTLAND - The Portland Timbers missed out on their season-long goal of playing in the MLS Cup, which is set for this weekend, but the team got a league-wide honor Monday.

Midfielder Diego Valeri took home the league MVP Award in a ceremony at the Adidas Village in North Portland.

In his fifth year with the team, Valeri, 31, scored 21 goals and had 11 assists to lead the Timbers to the top record in the Western Conference, although those marks did not transfer into a playoff series win over Houston, which ended the season. Valeri scored a goal in nine consecutive matches in midseason, setting a league mark in the process.

Timbers players voted him the team MVP, fans voted him the team's MVP as well as its Community MVP. He is only the second player in the 22-year history of the league to score more than 20 goals and record more than 10 assists in the same season.

Valeri, an Argentine national, was the MLS Newcomer of the Year in his first season, 2013, and scored the fastest goal in MLS Cup history in 2015 - 29 seconds, leading the Timbers to the league title that season. He earned the MLS Cup MVP Award in that game.

Portland has signed Valeri through the 2019 season.





Timbers hire Savarese, schedule opener

Portland addresses the 2018 season and beyond
By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports.com

PORTLAND – The Portland Timbers needed only a short time to fill it’s coaching vacancy, tapping Giovanni Savarese as the club’s head coach Monday.

Savarese becomes the team’s third head coach, replacing Caleb Porter who resigned in November following a disappointing playoff exit.

Savarese brings over 25 years of professional experience as a player and coach, most recently serving as the head coach and sporting director of the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League, where he led the club to three Soccer Bowl championships in five seasons.

Savarese, 46, will be formally introduced as the Timbers new head coach during a press conference in early January.

“After an intense coach search, I am very pleased to introduce Gio Savarese as the head coach of the Portland Timbers,” said Merritt Paulson, owner of the Timbers. “Gio is an intelligent, attack-minded coach and is a driven individual who is both a great fit with us on and off the field. We are extremely pleased to welcome Gio and his family to Portland.”

“We are excited to bring Gio on board as the club’s head coach. Gio brings a wealth of experience across all levels of the game, and his playing philosophy aligns with the expectations of the club and suits the playing personnel,” said Gavin Wilkinson, general manager and president of soccer for the Timbers. “His leadership and man-management, coupled with his core values and previous accomplishments, made him the right fit for this club, and we are delighted to welcome him to the Timbers.”

The Timbers announced they will play the LA Galaxay at the StubHub Center in their 2018 season opener, March 4, and their home opener, April 14, against Minnesota United FC, at 7:30p.m.

A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Savarese developed the Cosmos into one of the most successful clubs in the NASL, compiling a 65-26-44 record in 135 regular-season games, including a career-best 20-7-5 record in 2016.

Additionally, the Cosmos scored 223 goals during Savarese’s five seasons at the helm, which rank as the most in the NASL during that stretch. Savarese led the Cosmos to four Soccer Bowl appearances, claiming the 2013, 2015 and 2016 championships.

Savarese guided the Cosmos to a 10-7-15 record in 2017 and their third straight appearance in the NASL championship match. They fell 2-0 to the San Francisco Deltas in the final.

“I am both excited and proud to become the head coach of the Portland Timbers, and this is an ideal fit and outstanding opportunity for me as I take the next step in my coaching career,” Savarese said. “The passion, ambition and support surrounding this club is truly inspiring, and I am sincerely honored and grateful for this opportunity to lead it on the pitch and to build on the club’s history of success for the community and the incredible supporters of the Portland Timbers.”

Savarese enjoyed an 18-year professional playing career, including five seasons in MLS. He scored 159 goals in 322 games played in various leagues in the United States, Venezuela, Italy and England. At the international level, Savarese earned 30 caps for the Venezuela National Team from 1989-2001, scoring 10 goals, including a notable finish against South American rival Argentina in 1996.

Porter, who led the Timbers to the 2015 MLS Cup title, stepped down after guiding the Timbers to the top record in the Western Conference this season, but lost to Houston in their first playoff round.


Timbers keep playoff streak alive

Portland returns home after 0-0 tie at Houston

Playing their first postseason match of the 2017 campaign, the Portland Timbers battled the Houston Dynamo to a 0-0 draw before 15,169 fans at BBVA Compass Stadium in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals in the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs on Monday night.

The Timbers, making their third appearance in the MLS Cup Playoffs in the last five seasons, will return to Portland to play host to Houston in the second leg of the two-game, aggregate-goal series at Providence Park on Sunday.

Portland is unbeaten in seven consecutive playoff matches, including the 2015 championship match at Columbus.

Opening up their 2017 postseason campaign after bypassing the Knockout Round as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, the Timbers produced nine shots in the match, while holding the Dynamo scoreless on their home field. Attacking early in the game, Portland created a strong chance quickly on the break when forward Darren Mattocks slipped a pass in behind for midfielder Diego Valeri. Sprinting down the left wing, Valeri quickly played a curling pass into the box for an unmarked Darlington Nagbe, whose first-time effort went wide of the far post in the sixth minute of play.

Approaching the midway point of the first half, the Timbers threatened Houston’s goal again in the 20th minute of play when midfielder Dairon Asprilla received the ball on the left side of the 18-yard box, blasting a strong effort that went wide of the target.

The Timbers opened up the final 45 with another strong chance when Valeri and Nagbe combined in the final third, creating space for Valeri to fire an effort from distance and forcing a strong save from Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric in the 50th minute of play. Less than 10 minutes later, shortly after entering the game, forward Jeremy Ebobisse latched on to a pass from Valeri inside the 18-yard box, whipping an effort on target and forcing another save from Deric.

Continuing to create chances in the second half, the Timbers came close to scoring in the 68th minute when defender Vytas drove a pass across the six-yard box, finding defender Liam Ridgewell for a close-range effort that was blocked wide by the Houston defense. Six minutes later, an effective combination play in the middle of the field allowed Valeri to release Mattocks inside the box, with the striker hitting his effort at Deric, who made a strong save to prevent the scoring opportunity.

On the defensive end, goalkeeper Jeff Attinella made two strong saves in the second half, as Portland recorded its fourth shutout in its last seven games played across all competitions. In the 50th minute, with Houston attacking on the counter attack, Attinella made a strong save off his line to deny forward Alberth Elis. Five minutes later, Attinella produced another solid save in the 55th minute when he denied a looping header from defender Philippe Senderos, reacting quickly to push the defender’s chance over the crossbar.

All the Timbers need to win is an Army

Portland's home field edge comes through Tuesday in 2-1 win
July 3, 2012 / By Mike Donovan, oregonsports.com

In just a season-and-a-half, Jeld-Wen Field has quickly become the place where the top of MLS heap is cut down to size.

Tuesday night marked the fourth time in the club’s MLS history that the Portland Timbers took on the MLS leader at Jeld-Wen Field. And for the fourth straight time, it was the home fans who went home happy as Portland knocked off the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 in front of another sellout crowd.

In his first start in Portland since being traded to the Timbers, former Jefferson High School star Danny Mwanga gave the Timbers the lead in the 29th minute on a marvelous counterattack. It took just 12 seconds for Franck Songo’o to steal the ball from San Jose’s Rafael Baca on the edge of the Timbers penalty area, have a give-and-go with Eric Alexander and then pass the ball to a cutting Mwanga.

The goal came directly in front of the Timbers Army and sent the crowd into a bedlam. Coming off their worst loss of the season, Mwanga’s goal seemed to give an extra boost of energy to the Timbers.

For the 9th time in 2012, San Jose conceded the opening goal. But that might have been a good omen for the club, due to their 4-2-3 mark in those games. The comeback kids could not match the Timbers in front of their home fans.

Jack Jewsbury’s first goal of the season gave the club a 2-0 just before the 60-minute mark. Former Timber Alan Gordon got one back for the Quakes in the 74th minute but they were unable to get a shot on target after the goal.

Despite playing their worst game of the season just 72 hours earlier, the crowd was as loud as ever. Something that was not lost on head coach John Spencer.

“I think it’s easy to get up for games here. The passion and the energy in this stadium was tremendous. Felt it from the first whistle,” Spencer said postmatch.

The game was the 26th the Timbers have played at Jeld-Wen since their ascent to the MLS. Tuesday’s victory runs Portland’s record in those games to 14-7-5. Jewsbury says the fans play a direct part in the Timbers home success.

“With the fans and the energy they create, it makes it a bit easier for us and in that sense its great to play here, “ said Jewsbury, who scored for the first time in his last 25 games Tuesday.

But the Timbers know that their home dominance will mean little without getting results on the road. Portland has just two points from their seven road matches this season.
“Now, it’s a matter of us creating the same amount of energy for ourselves when we don’t have the fans there on the road,” Jewsbury said.

John Spencer, however, had a different idea on how to replicate the Jeld-Wen atmosphere for Saturday’s game at Real Salt Lake. When asked how the Timbers can play with the same fire this weekend in Utah, Spencer put his owner Merritt Paulson on the hook.

“I think our owner has planned to send 15,000 people, free of charge to Salt Lake next Saturday,” Spencer said, with a wry smile on his face.
The victory kept one of the more unusual streaks alive for Portland. The Timbers move to 4-0-1 in their last five home games playing under a full moon extending back to the USL era. Portland will play one more game at Jeld-Wen under a full moon this season on August 31 against the Colorado Rapids.

Full Moon or not, it is getting harder to deny what a homefield advantage Jeld-Wen Field has become.

Another No. 1 bites the dust

Timbers beat another top-ranked team, this time San Jose, 2-1
July 3, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

For the second time this season, the Portland Timbers showed off they can play with the best teams in the league - at home, and beat San Jose 2-1 Tuesday night at Jeld-Wen Field.

Danny Mwanga, brought in for his scoring just a month ago, and Jack Jewsbury, moved from midfield to the backline earlier in the year, both scored to highlight a dazzling effort from a team that got pounded at Colorado just three days earlier.

The win gave Portland (5-7-4, 19 points) three much-need points in the Western Conference against a San Jose team (11-4-3, 36 points) ranked No. 1 in the MLS Power Rankings and coming off a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy played before more than 50,000 fans.

"They're the hottest team in the league, so this is a great win for us," Portland coach John Spencer said. "Playing at home, in this environment puts so much energy in our guys. It really makes a huge difference in our play."

Portland beat Sporting Kansas City 1-0 on April 21 when KC entered No. 1 and the Timbers had just lost 3-1 at Los Angeles to fall to 1-4-1.

Most observers expected the Timbers to lose Tuesday night, especially after Saturday's loss that dropped the team from No. 16 to 18 in the league rankings, ahead of only FC Dallas.

"We knew coming in that we had some things to prove, and we needed to show that on the field," Jewsbury said. "It feels great to have played the way we played and got a win over such a strong team."

Next up, Portland plays at Real Salt Lake, which is second in the Western Conference standings at 10-6-2, 32 points, and ranked No. 4.

Mwanga, acquired in a trade with Philadelphia, scored off an assist by Frank Songo'o in the 29th minute, ending a scoreless streak of more than a year for the former Jefferson High and Oregon State standout.

Jewsbury added a score in the 59 minute, finishing a wild play in front of the San Jose goal that started off a Portland free kick.

San Jose got a score from Alan Gordon in the 74th minutes, but could not get another quality shot toward Portland keeper Troy Perkins.

The Timbers improved to 5-2-2 at home, where they've scored 14 of their 16 total goals this season.

Another must-win greets Timbers, fans

Portland gets a visit from league-leading San Jose Tuesday
July 1, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

Don't call it a comeback, unless there is a comeback - which is where the Portland Timbers seem to be again with their season.

Following a disastrous, 3-0 loss at Colorado, Portland returns to the friendly confines of Jeld-Wen Field to face San Jose Tuesday night, with San Jose entering the stadium as the top team in Major League Soccer.

Portland is 4-7-4, 16 points, and has scored 14 goals this season. San Jose is 11-3-3, 36 points, has scored 35 goals, and is coming off a 4-3 win over the LA Galaxy that's being touted as one of the league's best-ever matches.

Game time is 7:30 p.m.

Portland has faced a must-win scenario before, and performed beautifully. On April 21, the Timbers played host to Kansas City, then ranked No. 1 in the league, just a week after a disastrous 3-1 loss at Los Angeles and won 1-0 - only their second win of the season at the time.

Then, on June 24, Portland hammered Seattle 2-1, a week after an uninspiring 1-0 loss at Los Angeles.

At 16 points, the Timbers are eighth in the Western Conference, ahead of just FC Dallas. But, they're just three points behind Chivas USA and six points behind fifth-place Colorado, and have a game in hand over every team in the West.

And, Portland is 4-2-2 at home and enters the game at 2-1-2 in its last five contests. San Jose is 4-1-0 over the same span.


Timbers back on track as a team

Five cards should get the attention of opponents when attacking Portland
June 24, 2012 / By Mike Donovan, oregonsports.com

When Fredy Montero shoved David Horst near the end of the Timbers 2-1 victory over Cascadia Cup rival Seattle, there was little doubt that the game had reached its boiling point. But, it was the reaction of Horst’s teammates that said more about the Timbers current attitude than any goal could.

Within seconds, Horst’s teammates surrounded Montero and Eddie Johnson. By the time Kris Boyd stuck his finger in Montero’s face it was clear. The players on the 2012 Portland Timbers have each other’s backs.

Sunday’s victory might be the defining moment of the season, but it was certainly the game where Portland showed its determination, camaraderie and character. Captain Jack Jewsbury summed up how the team feels about one another after the match.

“(In) this locker room, everyone’s got each other’s back,” said Jewsbury post-match.

The Timbers came out firing out of the chute with two goals in the first 25 minutes of play. Boyd coolly finished a Steven Smith pass in the 16th minute, while Horst scored his first MLS goal off a header nine minutes later.

A superb Eddie Johnson goal gave the Sounders life, but the Timbers were able to hold on and provide a much needed win for the club. Spencer was impressed with his team’s desire to perform against Seattle.

“Everybody was fully committed to the uniform,” said Spencer, who is now 3-1-2 in Cascadia Cup matches.

For the Timber player who has been with the club the longest, it was a win four years in the making. At the end of the match, Futty Danso collapsed to the ground in celebration of his first victory against Seattle.

“This game means a lot to the city, a lot to the fans,” said Futty Danso, who signed with the club in April 2009.

Danso also talked specifically how much this game means to the Timbers Army.

“If they could pick one game to win, they’d pick this one,” Danso said.

While Spencer, Boyd and Smith have all played in the famous Old Firm rivalry in Scotland, there is still something special in playing in the United States longest running soccer rivalry.

“These are the games you want to play in as a player,” said Smith, who had first MLS assist on Boyd’s goal.

In the weeks following the Timbers 1-0 loss to amateur side Cal FC, a lot has been made of both the Timbers effort and quality. The Timbers displayed both Sunday.

Kalif Alhassan and Franck Songo’o both displayed incredible footwork, whether along the sidelines or 18 yards from goal. Diego Chara was his usual self, making long runs forward on counter attacks and patrolling the middle whenever Osvaldo Alonso was on the ball. Chara finished the game with 36 successful passes to just three unsuccessful.

It had been a long time since the Timbers had last defeated their rivals to the North - 1,520 days to be exact. However, sometimes the waiting makes the winning that much more satisfying.

For Horst, the satisfaction might come with splinters because Horst said he will be sleeping with his log slice tonight. For the rest of the Timbers players, organization and fans, the dreams will be of how much satisfaction comes in beating your rival.



Follow Mike Donovan on Twitter @themikedonovan and Tuesdays on No Pity City on oregonsports.com.

Timbers pull off a stunner at Jeld-Wen

After a month of disappointment, Portland beats Seattle 2-1
June 24, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

In another must-win game at home against an imposing foe, the Portland Timbers pulled off an unforseen 2-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders in an MLS match Sunday at Jeld-Wen Field.

Having lost to an amatuer team in U.S. Open Cup play three weeks ago, and then to the LA Galaxy last week to fall into last place in the Western Conference, the Timbers outhustled their Cascadia Cup rivals from Washington through the opening 45 minutes, which ended with a 2-0 lead, then survived a foul-plagued second half.

Kris Boyd scored his fifth goal on the season and David Horst scored his first goals as the Timbers improved to 4-6-4, 16 points, with all four wins coming on their home turf.

"It was a tremendous performance, especially in the first half," Portland coach John Spencer said. "I'm very happy with the win and the three points."

Seattle, which got a goal from Eddie Johnson, dropped to 7-5-4, 25 points, and remained without a win in league play since May 9.

Portland plays at Colorado, 6-8-1, 19 points, Saturday. The Timbers moved out of last place in the West with the win.

The Timbers fell into last place primarily because other teams passed them, namely the defending league champion Galaxy. Portland, once rated No. 18 of the league's 19 teams, had seemed to have its season back on a positive track after going 2-1-3 beginning with a 1-0 win over league-leading Kansas City, April 21, at Jeld-Wen - the first of its must-win games.

But, after a 1-1 draw with Vancouver, May26, the Timbers fell 1-0 to Cal FC, an amatuer club, in U.S. Open play - at home - and then struggled mightily at Los Angeles last week, causing plenty of commentary all week about the level of effort from players in support of their coach. They took care of those comments from the opening kick, simply outhustling the Sounders across the field for 45 minutes.

"It's part of playing for a club that expects results," said Boyd, who came to Portland prior to the seaosn as the all-time leading scorer in Scotland's Premier League. "I've been in that environment my whole career and it's no different here.

"We definitely didn't want to be isolated at the bottom of the league, so we needed the three points and needed to put forth the effort to make that happen."

Portland took the lead in the Cascadia Cup standings with the win with four points, which leads the Souders and Whitecaps by two points.

The teams combined to make Sunday's game entertaining from the outset with Seattle firing off 15 shots, while Portland had 13. Of the 28 shots, 17 were from inside the penalty box.

Both teams had a player sent off in extra time at the end of the second half. Fredy Montero of Seattle, then Lovel Palmer of Portland were sent off by referee Ricardo Salazar for fighting.

Seattle, which won five straight games earlier and led the Western Conference on May 19, has not scored twice in a game since the 2-all tie with Vancouver, May 19. In their last seven games, the Sounders are 0-4-3.

"Seattle can talk a good game, like anyone, but they're in the a pretty tough situation," Boyd said. "They haven't won in six or seven games.

"It feels good to win a big game like this, but it's over and now we have to look forward to preparing for Colorado."


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