Even though he had been coaching in the NASL, Savarese was familiar with the Timbers, having done MLS work for ESPN Deportes, and he laid out a scouting report for Portland owner Merritt Paulson and general manager Gavin Wilkinson during his first face-to-face meeting.
"I know the league very well and Portland has done things the right way," Savarese said at his introductory press conference. "If there's something at some point that needs to be helped with, I know I have the right support in this club to be able to make sure that this transition is made the best possible way."
Savarese coached for five seasons with the Cosmos and won three NASL titles in 2013, 2015 and 2016. But after the 2017 season when they lost to the San Francisco Deltas in the final, he said it was time for a move.
"I think this was the right time for me to make this transition to Major League Soccer and I couldn't have found a better club," said Savarese. "I felt it was the perfect fit for me."
The Timbers traded three players -- Darlington Nagbe, Darren Mattocks and Gbenga Arokoyo -- but they return a nucleus of veterans from their 2015 MLS Cup championship team, led by 2017 MLS Cup MVP Diego Valeri.
One thing Savarese was not up on about Portland is that natives -- 70 percent, according a 2017 study -- eschew umbrellas even when it rains.
"Yesterday, I went to cut my hair, and of course it was raining," Savarese said. "So I bring my umbrella and the lady who was cutting my hair says, 'You are not from here, this town, right?' And I say, 'Yes, you know because of my accent.' And she said 'No, no, no. Because you have an umbrella. Usually, people here don't use an umbrella.' Good to know,' I said. Next time, I'm not bringing the umbrella."
2018 Portland Timbers:
IN: Julio Cascante (Saprissa/CRC, transfer).
OUT: Gbenga Arokoyo (Atlanta United, trade), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United, trade), Darren Mattocks (D.C. United, trade), Amobi Okugo, Bill Tuiloma, Ben Zemanski.
Goalkeepers: Jeff Attinella, Jake Gleeson, Kendall McIntosh.
Defenders: Julio Cascante, Rennico Clarke, Marco Farfan, Larrys Mabiala, Roy Miller, Chance Myers, Alvas Powell, Liam Ridgewell, Zarek Valentin, Vytas.
Midfielders: Victor Arboleda, Dairon Asprilla, Jack Barmby, Sebastian Blanco, Diego Chara, David Guzman, Lawrence Olum, Lucas Melano, Diego Valeri.
Forwards: Fanendo Adi, Jeremy Ebobisse.