When you look at some of the rosters in European club football, it's hard to argue they aren't all-star teams themselves. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City, Juventus and Bayern Munich, among others, all boast some of the brightest and most exciting talent in footy.
So in a way, it makes complete sense that the MLS All-Stars would take on a team like Bayern Munich. Really, it's like the MLS All-Stars are taking on a slightly watered-down version of the Bundesliga All-Stars.
Below, we'll preview and predict the match, as the MLS looks to prove it can hang with one of the top clubs in the world. It should be one heck of a spectacle, if nothing else.
|Wednesday, August 6 at 9:30 p.m. ET||Providence Park, Portland, OR||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
With Bayern Munich having their full complement of European stars for this contest, the neutral observer might note that this one could get ugly for the MLS All-Stars.
After all, most of the Bayern Munich players are accustomed to playing with one another—including the large contingent that just helped Germany win the World Cup—and you could make a strong argument that no players from the MLS All-Stars would crack Bayern's starting 11.
Add in the fact that the MLS All-Stars are a collection of players brought together by the fans who aren't necessarily familiar with playing with one another, and you can see how the "home side" will be at a disadvantage.
Still, the MLS All-Stars have a few things going for them. For starters, many players have either played together on the USMNT or should have been on that team—cough, cough, Landon Donovan, cough—so the level of familiarity is higher than you'll get on many all-star teams.
They'll also have the crowd at their back and the chance to prove they can hang with Europe's elite—let's be honest, the MLS is considered that "cute little American league" across the pond—so pride will be at stake.
Plus, while many of Bayern's players are still working to get fit in their preseason training, the MLS All-Stars are in the middle of their season, so their form should naturally be a bit more crisp and fine-tuned than their German counterparts.
And to boot, Michael Bradley, Graham Zusi, Clint Dempsey and the other members of the USMNT that played Germany in Brazil this year will have a bone to pick with Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Mueller, Manuel Neuer, Mario Goetze and the other Bayern Munich players who beat them in the group stages.
Of course, there are those who think the MLS should keep the All-Star Game in house and do an East-West showcase rather than face a European side. Dempsey is perhaps amongst them, as his comments in a press conference before the game indicate, per The Canadian Press (via The Vancouver Sun):
I think it would be cool to go back to the old system—East versus West—because I think you could reward more players and you can reward more coaches for doing a great job. But at the same time it's still exciting to play against a team like Bayern.
It'd have been nice if we had more time to work with [manager Caleb Porter] in terms of tactics and how to better prepare ourselves so that we could play even better than what we'll play. But as the same time we'll still put in a good performance, we'll have fun and look forward to the challenge.
Not all agree with Dempsey's sentiment, Max Bretos of ESPN included:
Should #MLSAllStar return to an East Vs West format? I feel if u have something unique as league does with current ASG, stay & grow with it.— Max Bretos (@mbretosESPN) August 5, 2014
It's an interesting debate, but there's something to be said for the game's unique format. The MLS often feels a bit isolated from the rest of the major brands in club football, namely because most of them play in Europe, so giving the MLS All-Star Game an international feel seems wise.
It's also a chance to introduce Americans to some of the top players in the world and, by proxy, grow the general interest in the sport. That can't be a bad thing.
Let's be honest with ourselves here, folks—Bayern Munich are the better side. Really, it's not close. And if they are taking this game seriously and not just going through the motions because it's a glorified exhibition, they'll win.
It should be an entertaining spectacle nonetheless, and the MLS All-Stars are no pushovers. They'll give the German side a run for their money, but it won't be enough.
Bayern Munich win, 4-2.