Since the Spring Season is over, it seems a good time to reflect on the remarkable Cyclone ride the past seven months have been for the New York Cosmos and its head coach Giovanni Savarese.
From our successes against MLS sides in the US Open Cup, to our three Soccer Bowl championship victories during his tenure, Gio has been fundamental in unleashing the club’s and players potential to product results. Even at the club’s darkest hour to date in the modern era, Savarese represented the club honor during those dark weeks in December 2016 working tirelessly to help as many players as possible find new homes. Supporters could not have been prouder.
And when Cosmos fans experienced the Rocco Commisso Christmas miracle, Gio was there on Day 1 to put the pieces together. From the outside looking in, Mr. Savarese and his team made the initial rebuilding process seem almost effortless. Anyone with half a sense would know intellectually how almost impossible it would be to field a competitive team with such a sour near-death experience, a demoralized and depleted fanbase and so little runway. He inspired confidence in the club when it needed it most. No one else could have performed this role, and we all owe him a large debt of gratitude for this ‘Bonus Season’.
Some have used this term to reflect their uncertainty in the future of the club. It is true that this rebuilding year’s performance may not be immortalized for its results. But as the stands slowly start to fill, the bus ads continue to roll, the games continue to be televised, and the league announces expansion teams, the existential crises talk transitions to chronic challenges and the upcoming year. This is in no small part to the efforts of Giovanni Savarese and his staff.
It is due to his efforts that we have the luxury of asking ourselves what the future has in store for the living, beating heart of the New York Cosmos as his contract nears its end of term. Every Cosmos fan knows Gio deserves every chance to move up. Simultaneously, we are all selfishly hoping he re-signs and continues to rebuild because he has our every confidence. It’s also just simply difficult to imagine any one replacing him. My kids have spoken his name since they were 6 years old.
While we wonder aloud and wait, one consoling thought – in light of the US MNT’s coach Arena’s recent comments reflecting his limited, incorrect, indicative mindset as to the quality of NASL, NPSL and USL players – comes to mind: the rise of Giovanni Savarese to an MLS side or to the US W/MNT or to a role within USSF would not just bring them a remarkable talent and soul, it would bring someone with firsthand experience of the quality of talent developing in the lower divisions to the front lines of US soccer. In the face of a departure, we might all take comfort in the thought that it is through the involvement of people like Savarese that change will happen. Soccer in the United States will only improve as a whole if the right hearts and minds – ones with the best interest of the sport at their forefront – are engaged in the decision-making process.
I’d be more than content to see Gio Savarese live forever through the New York Cosmos, but many fans sense there is something wrong with US soccer even if we can’t comprehensively articulate it. Some guess it’s the lack of pro/rel; others say it’s college soccer/NCAA; others accuse USSF/SUM of wholesale corruption. Whatever the cause, I’d wager this only gets fixed by putting the best among us closer to the problem. Amongst those ranks, Gio Savarese surely sits high.