Timbers hire Cosmos' Giovanni Savarese as new coach

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Giovanni Savarese has been named coach of the Portland Timbers

Savarese, 46, has been coach of the North American Soccer League's New York Cosmos since 2012. He led the team to three Soccer Bowl championships in five seasons.

The Venezuelan forward played for 18 seasons in Europe and in the United States, including stints with Major League Soccer's MetroStars (Red Bulls), New England Revolution and San Jose Earthquakes.

"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 said in a statement Monday.

Under Savarese, the Cosmos were 65-26-44 in 135 regular-season games. The team went 20-7-5 in 2016 and had an undefeated spring season the year before.

Savarese replaces Caleb Porter, who parted ways with the Timbers last month after five seasons with the team. Porter compiled a 68-50-52 record and guided the team to an MLS Cup championship in 2015. This past season, the Timbers finished atop the Western Conference.

Porter, 42, was named the MLS Coach of the Year after his first season with the team in 2013. He signed a long-term contract extension with the team in January 2016.

"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," Timbers owner Merritt Paulson said.

The Timbers finished this season as the top seed in the Western Conference but fell in the conference semifinals 2-1 on aggregate to the Houston Dynamo. The Timbers were hampered by injuries in the semis, including to midfielder Diego Chara, who broke a bone in his foot.

The Timbers plan to introduce Savarese at a news conference in early January.

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