Giovanni Savarese

Portland Timbers
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Timbers announced new DP striker from Legia Warsaw

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The Portland Timbers added another intriguing piece to their attack on Thursday with the unveiling of Polish striker Jaroslaw “Jarek” Niezgoda.

Niezgoda will be a Designated Player.

The 24-year-old striker joins recently-reupped Diego Valeri and new signing Yimmi Chara as key pieces of a Portland attack which also includes USMNT hopeful Jeremy Ebobisse and Peruvian international Andy Polo.

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Niezgoda comes from Legia Warsaw, where he’s scored 29 times in 60 matches with the club. That includes 14 goals in 18 matches this season.

The numbers aren’t far off from one of the Polish league’s best exports: Nemanja Nikolic, who went on to a successful few seasons as a Designated Player for the Chicago Fire. Given the age and experience, this is close to an ideal MLS transfer aside from the big-name marketing appeal.

Timbers coach Giovani Savarese details a striker prepared to score plenty of goals in Major League Soccer, filling a dire need after the unfortunate exit of Brian Fernandez.

“He’s quick,” Savarese said, beginning his scouting report. “He’s a player that can sense inside the box where the ball is going to end up, and has a good knack [of finding] the ball and [scoring] goals … He’s elusive at finding space. He’s good with the head, reads the game very well.”

Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

MLS Cup Final preview: Timbers prepared to strike

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Things are going to get real loud in Georgia by the time 8 p.m. ET rolls around on Saturday night.

That’s when Atlanta United tangles with Portland Timbers, the Georgian outfit a heavy favorite to win its first MLS Cup and send Tata Martino, Miguel Almiron, and probably a few others away from United as all-time heroes (though they already qualify given their star power and the new nature of the club).

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Standing in their way? One of the most storied clubs in modern American soccer, guided by a first-time MLS manager whose outfoxed plenty of coaches in his day. Giovanni Savarese may not carry the name accolades of Martino’s but the job he’s done in Portland has surprised many and he deserves to have a shot of winning MLS Cup.

And lest we forget that Martino has been out-foxed in finals before: The 2013 Copa del Rey final and three Copa America finals, with the Spanish Super Cup for Barcelona against Atletico Madrid standing as his big final victory. The Copa America finals were Argentina twice losing to Chile in PKs, and with Paraguay blown out by highly-favored Uruguay; The Copa del Rey was Barca’s late loss to Real Madrid in Valencia.

Savarese has won three NASL titles with the New York Cosmos, who were admittedly the favorites each time. And his Timbers have won an MLS Cup away from home, claiming the 2015 final against Columbus with several players still in green and white on the roster (Diego Valeri, Jorge Villafana, Diego Chara, Lucas Melano, Jake Gleeson).

So, yes, Atlanta is the favorite to win, but don’t sleep on Portland in a one-off game with plenty of rest and time to prepare for a tactical challenge.


Regular season

Portland – 15W-10L-9T – +6 GD – 4W-8L-5T away

Atlanta – 21W-7L-6T – +26 GD – 11W-2L-4T home


Head-to-head

June 24 — D 1-1 in Atlanta — Goals: Mabiala (32′), Gressel (56′)


Playoffs

Atlanta
Beat NYCFC 4-1 (1-0, 3-1)
Beat RBNY 3-1 (3-0, 0-1)

Portland
Beat Dallas 2-1
Beat Seattle 4-4 (2-1, 2-3)
Beat Sporting KC 3-2 (0-0, 3-2)


Timbers extend unbeaten streak with 3-0 win over Union

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Diego Valeri and Dairon Asprilla each scored on a penalty kick, and the Portland Timbers extended their unbeaten streak to 15 games with a 3-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night.

Portland improved to 10-0-5 since its last loss on April 8 at Orlando. The undefeated run matches the club’s MLS record of 15 games set in 2013.

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Philadelphia rested many of its starters – including captain Alejandro Bedoya – in anticipation of Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal.

David Guzman also scored for the Timbers on a header in the 87th minute.

Valeri’s penalty came after Philadelphia’s Fabinho pulled down Alvas Powell in the 58th minute. Warren Creavalle tripped Valeri in the box for Asprilla’s PK in the 84th minute.

It was Portland’s first match without Fanendo Adi, who signed with FC Cincinnati this week. Adi, who had been with the Timbers since 2014, scored a late goal that gave Portland a 2-1 victory over Houston last weekend.

FC Cincinnati, currently with the lower-tier USL, will join Major League Soccer as an expansion team next season.

The Timbers were without Sebastian Blanco because of yellow card accumulation. Samuel Armenteros, who was listed as questionable with a sore back, started for Portland.

Bedoya was listed as a sub for the match but entered in the 66th minute after Valeri’s goal.

[ MORE: NPSL, PDL crown champions ]

Philadelphia hosts the Chicago Fire in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals. Other regular starters who were subs for the game included Hari Mendunjanin, Raymon Gaddis and David Accam. Coach Jim Curtain started forward C.J. Sapong and defender Keegan Rosenberry.

The match was scoreless after the first half. Portland’s best chance appeared to be a shot by Andy Polo that sailed just over the goal in the 34th minute. Just before that, Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella lunged to grab Sapong’s left-footed shot toward the far post.

Sapong had another opportunity in the opening minute of the second half but Attinella came away with another save.

Timbers make it official: Savarese is the new boss

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The Portland Timbers have made it official, announcing the hiring of New York Cosmos architect Giovanni Savarese as the successor to Caleb Porter.

Savarese, 46, led the Cosmos to three NASL Championship Games in his first run as a manager, following a playing career that included stops at Millwall, NY/NJ MetroStars, and Swansea City. He attended Long Island University, and was capped 30 times with 10 goals for Venezuela.

[ BLANC: I turned down USMNT talks ]

He’s an intriguing hire for Portland, who won an MLS Cup but suffered from inconsistency under the highly-regarded Porter (twice missing the playoffs but twice earning the West’s No. 1 seed). While the Cosmos regularly spent well, Savarese navigated the uncertain waters of a nascent league with regular success.

From Timbers.com:

“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.”

The hiring has been rumored for some time. Though Savarese was loyal to the Cosmos, the NASL’s future has been hung in the hands of the legal system for some time due to a bold lawsuit against U.S. Soccer Federation. The NASL contends that the relationships between the USSF, Soccer United Marketing, United Soccer League, and Major League Soccer have conspired to stop the NASL from competing with MLS as a D-1 league.

Report: Cosmos coach Savarese to be named new Timbers manager

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In a time where NASL’s status moving forward is hanging in the balance, one of the league’s top managers is set to make the jump to Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: LA FC close to acquiring Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan ]

According to ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman, New York Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese is set to be named the next Portland Timbers manager.

Savarese will take over for the recently departed Caleb Porter, who stepped down from his head coaching role with the Timbers in November.

The former professional player spent five seasons in MLS during his career, including stints with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars (now the Red Bulls), as well as the New England Revolution and the San Jose Earthquakes.

The 46-year-old has managed the Cosmos from 2013 to present, and guided the NASL side to three Soccer Bowl titles in that span.