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MLS Win Marred By Post-Match Behavior Of Bayern Manager

The MLS All-Stars stunned Bayern Munich 2-1 on Wednesday evening before a raucous crowd at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon in a showing that was marred only by Bayern manager Pep Guardiola's blatant snubbing of MLS manager Caleb Porter. Guardiola - upset over several tackles by MLS players that he deemed too aggressive for a friendly - refused to shake hands with Porter at the end of the match, claiming later not to have seen the MLS coach despite clear video evidence to the contrary. More on this later.

There were a lot of familiar faces on the MLS squad, as U.S. National Team members Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, DeAndre Yedlin, and Graham Zusi joined international superstars Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill for the first half. Dempsey, who plays for the Seattle Sounders, Portland’s blood rival, was booed throughout the match by the partisan crowd, even when he was introduced as one of the players that represented the U.S. at the World Cup. Bayern was without most of its starters for the majority of the match, as many of its players were just returning from a brief summer hiatus following the World Cup. This allowed U.S. wunderkind Julian Green to make a special appearance for Bayern in the 37th minute.

Bayern’s new signing Robert Lewandowski was in the starting lineup and showcased early why Bayern splashed the cash for him in the transfer market. Lewandowski, who came to Bayern from rival Borussia Dortmund, nearly scored in the 7th minute but was thwarted by MLS keeper Nick Rimando. A minute later, however, he did find the net with an impressive strike that swerved into the top of the goal past a helpless Rimando. Although relatively quiet for the remainder of the match, Bayern fans must be excited about what he will bring to this year’s squad - while simultaneously weakening Munich's main contender for the Bundesliga crown. Perhaps this year, Bayern will have the Bundesliga locked up by December, instead of having to wait until March. Quite the competitive league those Germans have.

In the first half, the most impressive player on the pitch for the MLS was 36 year-old Thierry Henry. Henry made a series of incredible passes to set up his teammates for shots on goal, though none could successfully convert. In the 41st minute, he stopped a ball bouncing away from goal outside the penalty area, took a touch off his thigh, and then volleyed the ball just over the goal. Despite being under pressure from the Bayern defenders, he made this look easy, showing that the “old man” still has a few elite skills.

As the second half began, the MLS made 10 changes to its lineup, leaving only Henry among the starters. This puzzling move made sense a few minutes later, as MLS and Portland Timbers manager Caleb Porter brought Henry off for Landon Donovan so that Henry could receive a proper send-off from the crowd. It was a classy move from Porter, allowing the legend to bask in the glow of what perhaps was his last All-Star appearance. The class showed by Porter would be in stark contrast to what his counterpart Pep Guardiola would display following the match.

The changes made an immediate impact, as the MLS substitutes cam on with great energy and took the match to Bayern. They were rewarded in the 51st minute when New York Red Bulls star Bradley Wright-Phillips had a great first touch before slamming the ball into the left corner to equalize. The strike made it easy to see why Wright-Phillips is the current leader for the MLS Golden Boot, awarded to the top scorer in the league. 

The MLS All-Stars then took the lead in the 70th minute when Landon Donovan received a brilliant cross from Portland’s Diego Valeri and slotted it past German superkeeper Manuel Neuer, who had entered the match ten minutes prior. The goal, Donovan’s record-breaking 6th in 12 all-star appearances, proved to be the match-winner and was enough to garner Landon Most Valuable Player. Donovan was substituted immediately after the goal, as he has a match for the L.A. Galaxy on Friday night, which restricted his minutes.

Following the goal, the Germans threw on their World Cup stars in the 79th minute. Phillipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Müller, and World Cup winning goal-scorer Mario Göetze all stood on the sidelines ready to enter the match, creating perhaps the most impressive quad-substitution ever executed. However, the superstars were unable to make the difference and grab an equalizer, even when Dutch star Arjen Robben joined them in the 86th minute. The last chance was a dangerous free kick in extra time, but Göetze put it well over the bar and the MLS held on for the victory.

The post-match was marred by Bayern Manager Pep Guardiola’s pointed refusal to shake hands with MLS manager Caleb Porter. Guardiola was incensed on at least two occasions during the match over what he perceived as unnecessarily reckless challenges from MLS players that were unbefitting a friendly. While that point is debatable, there is no question Guardiola’s refusal to shake Porter’s hand despite repeated efforts from the Portland manager was a shameful display of sportsmanship. Assistants followed his lead and also refused to shake Porter’s hand, putting a black mark on the proceedings. Incredibly, Guardiola attempted to claim in the post-match presser that he did not see Porter and was not intentionally snubbing him, despite the fact he repeatedly wagged his finger in Porter’s direction and was right next to Porter thereafter. Perhaps Pep forgot that there are things called “cameras” that capture video evidence to contradict his rubbish. Stay classy Pep.

Guardiola Snubs MLS Manager Caleb Porter

Overall, friendly or no, it was an impressive display for the MLS against one of the greatest clubs in the world. It was a bit of a no-win situation for the MLS, as if they were to win, it is only a friendly, but if they were to lose (especially if they lost badly), it is further proof of the gap in quality between the leagues. While Bayern did not play its expected starters for the majority of the match, the MLS was an all-star team that had only two days to train together. The MLS All-Stars went on the attack against the Bavarians and produced an extremely entertaining match with back-and-forth action throughout. Combined with the boisterous crowd in the stands, it was a great night for MLS and hopefully those that saw it (including yours truly) will remember what they saw when deciding whether to watch MLS going forward.

Follow Mike Smith on Twitter @thefootiegent

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