PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers today announced that the club has signed head coach Giovanni Savarese and his coaching staff to multiyear contract extensions. Along with his assistant coaching staff of Carlos Llamosa, Miles Joseph, Guillermo “Memo” Valencia and Shannon Murray, Savarese enjoyed a breakout first season as an MLS head coach with the Timbers in 2018, leading the club to its second MLS Cup appearance and matching its best regular-season win total during his first season.
“When Gio took the Timbers job last year he was on a short initial contract,” said Merritt Paulson, owner of the Timbers. “This extension is a well-deserved reward for Gio’s faith in his own coaching ability and, more so, an acknowledgement of the fact Gavin Wilkinson and I are delighted with Gio and his entire staff, both on and off the field. We expect Gio to be our on-field leader for years to come. The current Timbers club culture has never been better and Gio is a top-quality coach and an even better person. We are lucky to have Gio and his staff here in Portland.”
Appointed head coach of the Timbers on Dec. 18, 2017, Savarese helped lead Portland to its second MLS Cup appearance in his first season in 2018, as the club won its second Western Conference Championship in four seasons. Registering 18 wins overall, Savarese became one of three head coaches since 2000 to register 18 or more wins, including playoffs, in his first year as a head coach in the league, while also becoming just the second head coach in the last 14 seasons to advance to MLS Cup in his first year in the league. With the appearance in MLS Cup, Savarese has qualified for the league final five times in his six seasons as a head coach at the professional level, including his time with the NASL New York Cosmos.
“We are extremely pleased to make today’s announcement, ensuring the services of Gio and our entire Timbers coaching staff for years to come,” said Gavin Wilkinson, general manager and president of soccer for the Timbers. “Quite simply, Gio and his staff have done a tremendous job guiding the Timbers to success in a relatively short period of time, reinforcing an incredible team culture and leading the club to a Western Conference Championship and its second MLS Cup appearance in their first season with the club. Moreover, these extensions are a testament to the staff’s overall dedication and hard work, as even through the inevitable challenges incurred over the course of any soccer season, they have remained focused and passionately committed to the improvement and ultimate success of this club.”
With his 15 wins during the 2018 regular season, Savarese finished tied for the third-most wins by a first-year head coach in MLS history.
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“I am extremely honored and proud to have the opportunity to continue to be a part of the Portland Timbers family, a club that shares my enthusiasm and passion for the game. I thank Merritt, Gavin and the entire Timbers organization for the trust and support given to me from the first day that I arrived,” said Savarese. “I am delighted to continue to work with our entire technical staff and players for years to come. Our work is that of a collective group from top to bottom, and together we will continue to constantly give everything we have to the success of this club for our city and for our fans, who are so deserving.”
Llamosa, Joseph, Valencia and Murray all joined the Timbers first-team coaching staff in 2018, as the Timbers clinched a berth in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs for the fourth time in the last six seasons. Portland finished fifth in the Western Conference after posting a regular-season record of 15-10-9 in 2018, with the club’s 15 wins in 2018 ranking tied for the most regular-season wins (2015, 2017) in the club’s MLS history.
This season, the Timbers are 8-3-1 over their last 12 games across all competitions after starting the season with 12 consecutive road games. The Timbers also have advanced to the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for a second straight season after victories over Seattle Sounders FC in the fourth round of the tournament and the LA Galaxy in the Round of 16.