Lasting impressions: Three thoughts on the 2014 MLS All-Star Game
PORTLAND, Ore. — As All-Star games go, this one worked. My three thoughts on the MLS All-Star team’s 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich:
• Good All-Star games are about delivering memorable moments, and this one did.
Yes, it was only a friendly, but the MLS All-Star team’s win over Bayern Munich gave us some moments that we’ll remember for a while, and that’s exactly why you bother to watch games like this. What were those moments for me? Well, how about Thierry Henry’s insane first-half move to control the ball and unleash a shot that nearly scored from distance? Or Nick Rimando’s multiple acrobatic saves? Or Robert Lewandowski’s scorcher to give Bayern an early lead? Or Bradley Wright-Phillips’ thunderbolt equalizer? Or Landon Donovan’s game-winner in traffic against a Bayern team that wasn’t impressed with his loan there a few years ago? There was a lot of quality to talk about in this game, and that doesn’t even take into account what happened at the final whistle.
• Bayern manager Pep Guardiola didn’t exactly class it up.
He may be the most respected coach in world soccer, but Guardiola didn’t cover himself in glory by refusing to shake the hand of MLS coach Caleb Porter at game’s end. You can understand why Guardiola was uncomfortable fearing injuries to his World Cup-winning players in the final 10 minutes of a game for which the players just arrived here today. And you can understand why Guardiola wasn’t happy with a couple tough MLS tackles on those players late (Guardiola said after the game that Bastian Schweinsteiger had an ankle injury, but it’s unclear how serious it may be). But why show up Porter that way? It was an overreaction that will leave a sour taste in the mouths of those who expect Bayern to be above such behavior. And for Porter, who didn’t deserve it, that’s a tough thing to face from a coach he thinks the world of.
• If this was Thierry Henry’s last All-Star game, thanks for the memories.
Henry was fantastic during his time on the field, showing that he can still bring it at age 36. This whole week was a reminder of the respect Henry has won in world soccer. Players from both teams deferred to Henry in the days before the game, and Henry was total class with his insights on the sport and his performance on the field. Henry may not be the player he was five years ago, but he is still capable of being the best player on the field on a night when there was a ton of star power here. It was a pleasure to see first-hand.