Portland hosts MLS All-Star game
PORTLAND — By the time the MLS All-Star game rolls around tonight, coach Caleb Porter will have had two training sessions with his All-Stars.
Yes, just two practices to prepare for Bundesliga champion Bayern Munich.
Porter is hoping his side has some fast learners.
“It’s a celebration of these players, their careers,” said Porter, coach of the host Portland Timbers. “Hopefully, we can make it a competitive game and try to make it exciting with a lot of good attacking players.”
Ultimately the game is an exhibition, and Porter said his main job — besides putting on a good show — is to return the players to their teams with no injuries.
The All-Star game is part of a summer exhibition tour for Bayern Munich, which hasn’t visited the United States in a decade. The team defeated Chivas Guadalajara 1-0 last Thursday night at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
Winner of 19 straight matches at one point last season, Bayern Munich brings six players from the German national team that won the World Cup this summer, including Mario Goetze and Thomas Mueller. But coach Pep Guardiola said not to expect them to play more than about 15 minutes apiece.
The MLS team will also include several players from the U.S. World Cup team that advanced out of the group stage in Brazil, including Seattle’s Clint Dempsey and Toronto’s Michael Bradley.
“We just played against these players on the biggest stage in the world. I think in the past, the All-Star teams have had only a few days to come together, but it’s a little bit different this year because most of us are used to playing together on the national team,” said Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who was also on the U.S. national team.
The MLS All-Stars hope to have six players from the U.S. team on the available roster. On Tuesday, midfielder Kyle Beckerman of Real Salt Lake had to withdraw because of an unspecified injury.
Omar Gonzalez and Robbie Keane of the L.A. Galaxy both made the team but also had to bow out. The Galaxy did send forward Landon Donovan, who is appearing in his record 14th All-Star game.
A player to watch on Bayern Munich’s side is 19-year-old Julian Green, who played for the United States in Brazil and became the youngest American player to score in the World Cup with a goal against Belgium.
Green, who was born in Florida but grew up in Germany, has dual citizenship. With Bayern Munich since 2010, Green is vying to make his debut with the club’s senior side this season. He’ll likely see more play than Bayern’s other World Cup stars.
“He’s going to play a little bit more — for the fans, for the girls,” Guardiola joked.
Last year, Italian powerhouse AS Roma, led by longtime star Francesco Totti, defeated the MLS All-Stars 3-1 in Kansas City. The Galaxy’s Gonzalez scored the only goal for the MLS side in second-half stoppage time.
Bradley was on Roma’s side for that match.
The MLS is 7-3-1 against international opponents since the league adopted the current All-Star game format, the only losses coming to English Premier League club Manchester United and Roma.
“The best thing you can do is keep it simple.” Porter said. “I want these players to go back to their clubs healthy.”