PORTLAND, Ore. — It might have just been a friendly, but Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola still found something to make his blood boil during the Major League Soccer All-Star Game on Wednesday. Incensed by a series of poor tackles from the MLS side, Guardiola and his staff refused to shake MLS coach Caleb Porter’s hand after the match.
“I’m not talking here about my colleagues,” Guardiola said in his post-game press conference. “We came here to respect football for the fans, respect our opponents. We came here with seven players [who] traveled 12 hours just to play 15 minutes — to respect this game, respect Portland, respect MLS. We did it.”
His opposite number was also dismissive of any deeper meaning to the post-game events.
“That’s such a small part of tonight,” Porter said. “Coaches get heated. Certainly, you guys have seen me in games. There was so much good to talk about tonight during the game that for me, there’s no reason to make that a story.”
From the beginning of the match, Guardiola seemed displeased with some of the tackles the MLS team put in on his players. Tim Cahill in particular made a couple rough sliding challenges in the first half, but referee Jair Marrufo didn’t feel the need to show him a yellow card (or even call the second incident as a foul).
In the second half, Osvaldo Alonso and Will Johnson did receive cautions for mistimed tackles. Guardiola stood up and crossed the halfway line to clearly remonstrate with Porter about his team’s physicality. Porter could be seen putting his hands up and apologizing to Guardiola at one point.
League referees have been directed to promote a certain “game-flow model that they want in MLS,” World Cup referee Mark Geiger told SI.com in July. At times, that allows for some physical play that would often be called as fouls in continental European leagues.
Ultimately, did Guardiola feel the match was too physical for a friendly?
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “We will prepare much better [next time].”
After the match, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati tweeted:
All good with Pep Guardiola and Caleb Porter. With them for nice handshake outside the locker room after the game. #MLSAllStar— Sunil Gulati (@sunilgulati) August 7, 2014