Filling the void left by Caleb Porter's surprising resignation last month, the 46-year-old takes over a Timbers team that finished first in the Western Conference in 2017.
Savarese had served as coach of the NASL's Cosmos for the past five years, compiling a 65-26-44 regular season record while winning three league titles. The former Venezuela international announced his departure from the Cosmos last week, with sources confirming to Goal that he was set to take the job in Portland.
"Gio brings a wealth of experience across all levels of the game, and his playing philosophy aligns with the expectations of the club and suits the playing personnel," Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson said in a news release. "His leadership and man management, coupled with his core values and previous accomplishments, made him the right fit for this club, and we are delighted to welcome him to the Timbers."
Savarese played professionally from 1986 to 2004, including stints in MLS with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, New England Revolution and San Jose Earthquakes. He served as head of youth development for the New York Red Bulls from 2005 to 2007 before taking over as the Cosmos' academy director in 2010, with the club promoting him to head coach in November 2012.
The Timbers, who won the 2013 Supporters' Shield and 2015 MLS Cup during Porter's five-year stint, finished 15-11-8 during the 2017 regular season but were upset by the Houston Dynamo in the Western Conference semifinals.
Savarese will now usher in a new era for Portland, which also traded star midfielder Darlington Nagbe to Atlanta United last week.
"I am both excited and proud to become the head coach of the Portland Timbers, and this is an ideal fit and outstanding opportunity for me as I take the next step in my coaching career," Savarese said. "The passion, ambition and support surrounding this club is truly inspiring, and I am sincerely honored and grateful for this opportunity to lead it on the pitch and to build on the club’s history of success for the community and the incredible supporters of the Portland Timbers."