When Major League Soccer began in the 1990s, the ability to see local players coming into their own was key, and the MetroStars were no different with local talents like Tab Ramos, Mike Petke, and Tony Meola donning their local colors. But there was one important player who wasn’t a local, at least at first.
That man - a Venezuelan who became a resident of Queens - is none other than Giovanni Savarese. Every single time he got a chance, he converted and showed his heart and passion on his face as he ran towards the die-hard supporters in section 101.
Savarese’s most memorable goal was against the Tampa Bay Mutiny in the inaugural 1996 season when he scored a bicycle kick to tie the game at three apiece. After Dario Hernandez was able to lose his defender, he crossed the ball into the middle of the field and Savarese was right there to convert the chance,
Of course, the first MLS All-Star Game was at Giants Stadium back in 1996 in an Eastern Conference-Western Conference format. With the the West lead two goals to one late, it would be Savarese who delivered another huge goal, sliding in the rebound for the equalizer.
His smile was contagious every time he put the ball into the back of the net as he flashed the badge to the die-hard supporters when he got close to the stands. In the three seasons, he played for the MetroStars Savarese scored 41 league goals 45 in all competitions, including that big playoff goal in the first game against DC United.
Sadly he was traded to the New England Revolution before the 1999 season began. The fan favorite who had become more of a bench player was shipped out. He would continue his career with stints in Europe and South America.
Back in the 2001 Season, the MetroStars and a few MLS sides were invited by CONMEBOL to participate in the Copa Merco Norte, as they were drawn in a group against Millionaros of Colombia, Guadalajara Chivas of Mexico and Deportivo Italchacao of Venezuela.
In the team for Italchacao was Savarese. He got a big hand from the crowd as they remembered him fondly, and while he didn’t score a goal and the Metros won that match two goals to nil, it was fantastic to see him again.
Even though he has managed the New York Cosmos then of the NASL and currently running the Portland Timbers, you would hope that one day when his time in Portland is finished, that he would return home again and manage the club that made him a superstar back in 1996.
While Tab Ramos, Tony Meola, Peter Vermes, and Antony DeAvila will always be something special to the club in its early years, the player who really defined the MetroStars in its infancy was Giovanni Savarese. The first Metro Legend.