January 10, 2017
By Michael Lewis
REBUILDING A CHAMPION
Saverese: 'We are not starting at zero. We are starting at minus five'
Perhaps head coach Giovanni Savarese said it best about how he needs to rebuild the two-time defending North American Soccer League champions.
|Giovanni Savarese: "It's going to be a tough job but I am confident it's going to be a competitive team."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
"We are not starting from zero," he said during a Tuesday conference call. "We are starting from minus five."
In the wake of cable TV entrepreneur Rocco B. Commisso purchasing the Cosmos, Savarese will remain coach and technical director of the club. His task will be an enormous one: rebuilding a team that has lost several key players due to the team's brink of extinction with only 81 days until the April 1 opening weekend.
"It's going to be a tough job but I am confident it's going to be a competitive team," Savarese said.
Commisso gave Savarese, who has directed the team to three Soccer Bowl crowns in four season, his full backing.
"Gio's got my total confidence on what he's going to do," he said. "I'm going to give him a budget and he'll go from there."
Savarese said he will continue the same game plan that has made the Cosmos the class of the NASL the past four seasons -- bringing in talent and making it as diverse as the population of New York City.
He said Commisso had "given the confidence to me and my staff to rebuild the team. We're not going to do anything different than we've done before."
Only three players remain under contract: defender David Ochieng, defender Ryan Richter, who converted the game-winning penalty kick in the shootout to clinch the NASL title for the Cosmos, and Eric Carvilho.
Six players already have found new teams. That includes league MVP Juan Arango, who signed to play for Zulia FC in his native Venezuela, midfielder Danny Szetela, who has joined the NASL expansion side San Francisco Deltas and forwards Lucky Mkosana and Jairo Arrieta, who inked deals with teams in Finland (FK Mariehamnand) Costa Rica (Herediano), respectively.
Bolivian international Yasmani Duk agreed to terms with Al Ettifaq (Saudi Arabia).
Assistant coach Carlos Llamosa also won't be back. He has taken on similiar responsibilities with the New England Revolution (MLS).
"Unfortunately, with the transition, some players have move on," said Savarese, who added that he was talking to some players about returning.
He did not mention any names.
Savarese said that he hopes to have most of his staff back.
He understood the task at hand.
"Right now we have to rebuild everything," he said. "Everything happened so quickly in the last few days.
"The team was on the edge of not existing."
He said it was a miracle the Cosmos will be around.
If the Cosmos can be the competitive force it has been in the past four season, people might be saying the same thing about Savarese's ability to rebuild the squad.