UPDATE: Midfield Press has located the audio of the interview, which you can listen to here. Our Spanish language experts tell us a translation of Gio’s comment on the MLS question would be “but yeah, it is possible in the future I would go to MLS. We will see, it is the last year of my contract.” Gio adds that “we have brought Arango in and next year we could bring in more.”
The 2017 NASL midseason break, while shorter than previous years, has been hectic for the Cosmos. With fan favorites Lucky Mkosana and Juan Arango returning, Cosmos Country has certainly had their share of positive news. However, on Tuesday afternoon, news would turn sour as one of the worst kept secrets in American soccer finally came to light: Head Coach Giovanni Savarese wants to coach in Major League Soccer, and he wants to at the end of his contract. The comment was made to Venezuelan radio program Ticket VIP 1300.
?Gianni Savarese: "Este es mi último año de contrato, espero poder dar el salto a la @MLS"
— Ticket VIP (@TicketVIP1300) July 25, 2017
The comment can’t come as a surprise to any in the American soccer scene, as Savarese has fought off MLS interest from seemingly the beginning of his time in New York. The Houston Dynamo have come calling almost annually, and during the Cosmos brief “hiatus” this offseason, both Real Salt Lake and Minnesota United desired the Venezuelan’s services. This year’s MLS expansion club came closest to securing his signature, but talks broke down due to the Cosmos insistence on a transfer fee for Savarese, who was at the time still under contract with the club.
And yet, Savarese has stuck out with the club through thick and thin. From building the club’s academy before their NASL debut, the former MetroStars striker has endured financial hardship, near foreclosure, and everything in-between during his time at the Cosmos. Savarese famously worked through the offseason to secure new homes for his players while his club’s future was still in doubt, and, as recently as June, slammed the club’s front office for their handling of a video replay of a botched penalty call on winger Walter Restrepo. Through everything, Savarese has given his full loyalty to the Cosmos through thick and thin. Now, seemingly, he appears prepared for the next step in his coaching career.
With Gio’s intentions now clear, the questions naturally must come, both inside and outside of the Cosmos organization. How many players will stay at the club despite Savarese’s departure? From the beginning, much has been written and spoken by players about the magical “Cosmos Culture”, this all-powerful entity around the world-famous Cosmos that brings in players from around the club to one of the world’s most famous cities. How much of this culture is tied to Savarese, and how much will leave when Savarese does? Can it be replicated by whoever steps in to Savarese shoes?
Externally, who will acquire the services of one of America’s most promising coaches? Savarese’s Sporting Director experience undoubtedly bolsters his resume and brings an invaluable asset that must be used: roster building. Could newcomers LAFC convince Savarese to move to the opposite coast with their infinite resources? Will Houston Dynamo finally succeed in their years-long pursuit of the Venezuelan? Would the New England Revolution take a gamble on an NASL coach in order to jump start their club once again? Or – possibly most exciting for Savarese – could a club from Liga MX or the lower divisions of Europe come calling? For a man who has had such an imprint on an incredibly successful club (and fluent in five languages), the possibilities could be bigger than just the first division of the United States.
No matter the future, there are certain things even the most critical and ardent followers of the Cosmos and NASL must remember. Savarese has become an absolute legend of lower division soccer and crafted the most dominant lower division soccer team in recent memory. Three titles in four years of existence is an absolutely absurd and historic record of achievement, especially when you consider all of the the hardships and obstacles thrown in Savarese’s path to the top of the NASL. It’s always been inevitable that a manager with this sort of track record at a Division II level would to take the next step in his coaching development.
All of this, and the Cosmos still have a Fall Season and NASL title to defend this Saturday, when they host possibly the only club in modern NASL history that has replicated the level of success the Cosmos have had.