by JAKE NUTTING
New York Cosmos Head Coach Giovanni Savarese did not mince words when addressing how challenging the past few months have been during the team’s financial turmoil and how arduous his job will be in the coming months to rebuild his team
“We are not starting from zero,” Savarese said during a media call introducing the team’s new owner. “We are starting from minus five.”
After working for weeks to ensure that the players in need found new teams, or worrying that some of them were going without their wages, Savarese is relieved Rocco B. Commisso has entered the picture to steady the ship and empower him to start assembling a new Cosmos team.
“What happened after the championship has been very, very difficult,” admitted Savarese. “I cannot hide that. Some players were in a very difficult situation. I’m just glad that now they will be able to get paid. I’m glad that the Cosmos will be able to continue.”
Even before the deal for Commisso to purchase a majority stake in the Cosmos was finalized, Savarese was already reaching out to players from his 2016 championship squad, trying to sell them on the new ownership.
“We are trying to talk to a lot of [the players] to explain how the new era of this new ownership is trying to rebuild the club,” he said. “We are fortunate that some of the guys have already accepted to come back, but definitely we have a lot of work and not a lot of time to be able to do it.”
The only players from last year’s squad already under contract are Kenyan international David Ochieng, U.S. youth international Eric Calvillo and last year’s Soccer Bowl penalty shootout hero Ryan Richter. Discussions with other players to return are ongoing.
Talks to bring back Savarese’s technical staff have also already begun. Assistant Coach Carlos Llamosa has already been lost to New England Revolution’s coaching staff, but the return of fan-favorite Alecko Eskandarian is still possible.
“We’re talking with Alecko to be back,” confirmed Savarese. “Luis Gutierrez [Fitness Coach] we also believe will be back. Memo Valencia [Goalkeeper Coach] at the moment is entertaining some offers but is also thinking about coming back. We’ll try to rebuild the staff with the same people that we had and are meeting with new people in some positions.”
Commisso claims he’ll have “zero to none” to do with building the team’s roster, at least for the time being. He did leave open the option of him interjecting with his opinions later on once he settles into his new role.
“Our conversations have always been on the same page, in believing the same thing to rebuild a team that is a reflection of New York City, is very diverse, and to have local players, international players,” Savarese said of his talks with Commisso. “He’s has given full confidence to not just me, but my whole staff to be able to rebuild the club.”