The Portland Timbers played the maximum seven games during the MLS is Back Tournament on their way to becoming champions. The Timbers won five of their seven matches and drew two (advancing on penalties in one). Portland impressed by scoring 14 goals on the way to the title giving the team plenty of reason to celebrate as they marauded through the competition. And there is no one who knows how to celebrate quite like Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese.
Savarese is a passionate coach who lives every kick of the ball on the touchline and celebrates goals more fervently than the players who scored them. He has provided Timbers fans with many great moments throughout the MLS is Back Tournament and I am going to take you through my Top 10 Savarese Cellys.
Number 10: “It’s not a celebration until Gio Savarese shows up.”
After advancing to the final by defeating a dangerous Philadelphia squad, the Portland Timbers tweeted, “It’s not a celebration until Gio Savarese shows up.” The tweet was accompanied by a video of the coach sprinting into the locker room as his players showered him with water. Savarese danced, jumped up and down and chanted jubilantly while surrounded by his players.
Fans love to see the raw emotion of players and coaches and this video became very popular across MLS Twitter, but this was one of the Venezuelan’s calmer celebrations.
Number 9: “His Master Plan Pays Off”
Coming in at number nine is Diego Valeri’s game-winner against New York City FC in the quarterfinals of the tournament. The match was tied at 1-1 in the second half of the match and the Timbers needed a goal. Savarese subbed on his main man, Diego Valeri, and a few minutes later, subbed on Jaroslaw Niezgoda. The substitutions would pay off in the 65th minute when Valeri and Niezgoda played a nice one-two that left the Argentine 1 v. 1 with the goalkeeper. There was never a doubt. Valeri buried it.
Savarese yells and immediately turns to celebrate with his staff. He raises both fists to the sky, fist pumps and pulls his coaching staff in for the signature coaches’ group hug we have all come to know and love.
Number 8: “¡Vamos C***jo!”
The next celebration was not in response to a great goal or a big-time save. It came in response to a Sergio Santos penalty that was sent into space. In the 45th minute, Philadelphia was awarded a penalty. The Union had the chance to tie the match at ones but failed spectacularly, much to the delight of Savarese. He repeatedly swings both arms with fists pumping, salted with some Spanish expletives.
Number 7: The Bus Breaks Down
Everyone knew that FC Cincinnati were going to try to park the bus for 90 minutes with 11 people behind the ball. The Timbers poked and prodded for a goal and were finally rewarded in the 67th minute. Sebastian Blanco magic, combined with a Jaroslaw Niezgoda finish, provided us with our seventh best Savarese celly of the tournament. The Venezuelan strays from his go-to crazed fist pumps and yelling. He instead goes for a quick “Let’s go,” mean-mug and solitary fist pump. He didn’t want to get too excited. The job wasn’t finished.
Number 6: Let’s Go x3
Andy Polo’s wonder strike gave Portland a 3-1. The strike solidified Portland’s place in the semifinals. This sparked a two-part celebration. First, the camera flashes to Savarese who yells “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.” Three ‘Let’s go’s’ for three goals. He follows it up by flailing both arms in the air and going airborne for the first time in the MLS is Back Tournament. Air Gio.
Number 5: Blanco’s Blast
Blanco curled a beautiful shot into the bottom corner of Sean Johnson’s net to tie the quarterfinal 1-1. The emphatic finish was rewarded with an emphatic celebration. Savarese yells, spins, raises his fist and turns to join the staff’s group hug all in one swift move.
Number 4: The Calm Before the Storm
We are going all the way back to the first match of the Group Stage for number four. Steve Clark saved Javier Hernandez’s penalty to keep the game at 0-0. In anticipation of Hernandez’s strike, Savarese leans calmly and you don’t even need to see the spot-kick to tell it didn’t go in. The coach goes from nervous to exhilarated in a millisecond. Savarese set a high bar for his celebrations off the bat.
Number 3: Ebobisse’s Early Opener
Jeremy Ebobisse headed in his fourth goal of the tournament to put Portland ahead in the semifinal match against the Philidelphia Union. Savarese shows his usual passion with both fists up in the air. But, what I really love about this one is the finger point. This is total speculation, but I like to believe he is crediting the set-piece coach with the goal, which really encapsulates what this team is all about.
Number 2: NiezGoala Seals It
After Clark gave away one of the most bizarre penalties I have ever seen, FC Cincinnati tied the match at 1-1. The match went to penalties. FCC missed two penalties which provided Portland’s loan goal scorer on the night the opportunity to seal it. He calmly dispatched his penalty and sent Savarese berserk.
Savarese was obviously fired up and the Timbers’ social media team gave us the slow-mo video we didn’t know we needed.
Number 1: ¡Campeones!
This was always going to be number one because the Timbers ended the MLS is Back Tournament as number one. Savarese and his staff met for one last group hug and I’m sure this one was the best. The Venezuelan continues shouting, “Campeones!” You can hear the passion in his voice and it shows just how important this win was to the team and to Savarese.
This wraps up the MLS is Back Tournament and our countdown of our best Savarese Cellys. Hopefully, we will see some more of these on Aug. 23 against the Seattle Sounders.