However, In the short time that Juan Guerra has been with the Cosmos, he has fully embraced the club and its supporters, even making an appearance at the recent 5 Points fundraiser.
It would seem that, unsurprisingly to some, a big reason for this is none other than fellow Venezuelan Head Coach and Sporting Director Giovanni Savarese. And this is hardly the first time the coach has convinced Guerra to make the trip to Brooklyn.
“I’ve known him for years,” said Guerra of the Cosmos head coach. “Personally, when I was in college, when he was the head of youth development for the Red Bulls, he contacted me a few times and I asked him for advice before joining the draft and doing all this stuff. He brought me to New York to play PDL with the Brooklyn Knights. I said in one of the interviews, when I was very young, my dad used to take me to the stadium and I would see Gio playing for the national team.”
And despite knowing him as a mentor and as a friend, Guerra has been presented with a new side of Savarese: coach.
“So now, having him as a coach is just…it’s special. And I see another side of him that I didn’t see. I know him as a person, as a friend, but now, to have him as a coach and see the way he treats every player just makes him an even bigger character to me.”
“I’ve known Juan since he was in college, since he was playing at FIU and we always kept in contact,” Savarese told TICC about his new signing.
“When I was working for the Brooklyn Knights, he played for the team. He was a player that had good things to be able to offer. He was going to have a career. That’s exactly what happened. He went from there to play professional in Venezuela to play for the national team. So, he moved forward to good things and now, after being able to play in the NASL for Tampa, we saw the option for him to come to New York. So, the timing was perfect and he’s very glad to be here.”
Despite the career paths that took them their separate ways, both player and coach sought a way to reunite. Guerra’s acquisition of a green card, the split between him and the Rowdies and the turmoil experienced by the Cosmos in the offseason created the possibility they had explored for some time: having Guerra join the Cosmos.
“I think the fact that he became a green card holder made things easier,” said Savarese. “I think from his part also, the club that he was in went a different direction, making this possible. And we’ve been talking from before about the opportunity for him to be part of our club and he’s always been open to that, but I think this time was the perfect moment to be able to make it happen. And things just worked out by themselves; as I said, he’s very enthusiastic to be here.”
On Guerra’s part, there was no hesitation when the call came from his mentor.
“When Gio called me, when the Cosmos called, I didn’t think twice about it,” admitted the midfielder. “A lot of people were like ‘Are you sure you want to go there? You know what happened a few months ago.’ There were other teams that were interested here in the league and another country but, when I heard the name the Cosmos, I didn’t think about it. I just wanted to come.”
“I know what the Cosmos represents here in the United States and to the rest of the world. I just wanted to be a part of this beautiful, huge, successful, winning organization. Now, being here, I know I took the right decision. I know I picked the right team and I couldn’t be more happy.”After his first interaction with the fans, Guerra’s resolve seems to have solidified even further. After trading jokes with Danny Szetela about their on-field interactions, he was warmly welcomed by the supporters for the rest of the evening.
“After being welcomed like this, to feel the love from you guys, I just want to have an even better year,” Guerra told TICC at the fundraiser. “I want to have a successful year together, I want everybody to have fun, I want to try to win everything that we play. I want to win it and you guys deserve it and the team does.”