There was a somewhat shocking result in the soccer world Wednesday night as the Major League Soccer All-Stars defeated Bayern Munich 2-1 at Portland’s Providence Park. The German champions did field mostly a reserve squad, but nonetheless, great football was played.
Robert Lewandowski opened up the scoring for Bayern on the eighth minute. The prolific Pole smashed a volley over the hands of MLS goalkeeper Nick Rimando and into the back of the net. It was yet another goal for Bayern’s new signee, and they have to be happy with the sort of preseason he’s having.
Lewandowski’s goal was Rimando’s only fault in the match. He made a number of great saves throughout the game, notably denying Xherdan Shaqiri from close range by getting a hand up and tipping the ball over the bar. He also denied Shaqiri’s strike from distance and Pierre Hojbjerg’s near post effort. It was an eventful 45 minutes for him.
American youngster Julian Green entered the match on the 37th minute to a raucous applause from the Portland crowd. He had a solid match for Bayern, but did have his best scoring chance denied by a Rimando save.
The MLS All-Stars’ first half attacking presence was felt mostly in the trio of Obafemi Martins, Clint Dempsey, and the legendary Thierry Henry. Arguably their best chance of the half came when Henry lifted a pass over the Bayern backline to Dempsey, whose volley was well saved by Tom Starke. Henry had another chance to equalize, when his volley dropped precariously on the top of the goal.
At the beginning of the second half, MLS All-Star manager Caleb Porter made a clean sweep of changes, bringing in all 11 of his substitutes. That seemed to make the difference. On the 51st minute, Chivas USA striker Erick Torres played the role of the setup man when his flick-on found Bradley Wright-Phillips in space. Major League Soccer’s leading scorer left no doubt with his finish, blasting a half-volley into the top right corner. It was a world class strike, and Starke had absolutely no chance.
The match winner came with 20 minutes remaining. Diego Valeri, from the hometown Portland Timbers, sent a great lofted ball to Landon Donovan. The MLS legend corralled the pass and knocked it past Manuel Neuer to provide the final difference in the match. Bayern brought on World Cup winners Thomas Muller, Mario Gotze, and Bastian Schweinsteiger late in the match to salvage a result, but it was done to no avail.
The controversy came after the match, when to outside eyes, it looked as if Bayern manager Pep Guardiola avoided shaking hands with All-Star manager Caleb Porter. Guardiola was upset with some of the rough challenges by MLS players on some of his stars.
When asked about the incident, he insisted that he “didn’t see Porter.” The drama was stirred up even more when Guardiola stated that he hopes his team will be invited to play the MLS All-Stars again. What a rematch that would be!