January 30, 2017
PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR
BigAppleSoccer.com honors Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese
By Michael Lewis
|Giovanni Savarese has directed the Cosmos to three NASL championships in four seasons.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Under Giovanni Savarese's guidance, the Cosmos captured the North American Soccer League championship for the third time in four years.
As impressive as that achievement was, Savarese's dealings with the team's off-the-field headaches after the 2016 season revealed a lot about not only the coach, but the man as well.
Combined with a championship season and his conduct over the last six weeks of the year, Savarese was named the BigAppleSoccer.com personality of the year Monday night.
Savarese also earned the honor in 2013.
Nobody outside of the Cosmos inner circle did not realize it, but Savarese made sure the team would not fall apart while the Soccer Bowl champions endured some severe financial hardships as the season rolled on.
That was not an easy task, considering the Cosmos were favorites to win the NASL title.
The Cosmos finished the regular season with a 20-7-5 record and 65 points -- 10 more points than the Indy Eleven -- while winning the fall season via an impressive 14-3-5 mark. Former Venezuelan international Juan Arango was voted league MVP. Defenders Carlos Mendes and Ayoze were named to the NASL Best XI along with Arango.
In the semifinals, the Cosmos got past Rayo OKC, 2-1, on goals by Juan Arango and Yohandry Orozco.
In Soccer Bowl -- played at a less than filled Belson Stadium at St. John's University -- the Cosmos edged Indy Eleven, 3-2, in a shootout after 120 minutes of scoreless soccer.
“The guys always felt that they wanted to win a new championship,” Savarese said at the time. “They didn’t want to defend the last one. I think that hungriness to win a new one showed, from the fall season all the way until now.”
Added Indy head coach Tim Hankinson: "The Cosmos are a very experienced squad in knowing how to win. They have that level of confidence because they've done it."
When the team released all but three players and the team seemingly going out of business, Savarese did some of his best coaching off the field, calming the players the best he could and finding new teams for some
When cable TV magnate Rocco B. Commisso purchased a majority share of the club earlier this month, Savarese put his next challenge and task into perspective.
"We are not starting from zero," he said. "We are starting from minus five.
"It's going to be a tough job but I am confident it's going to be a competitive team."
Especially if Giovanni Savarese has his say. There probably are certainly few people who will argue against it.