The MLS All-Star game against Bayern Munich Wednesday night had a little bit of everything.
Two world-class goals. A game-winner from American legend and MVP Landon Donovan in what turned out to be his All-Star swan song. Thrilling, wide-open play. A slew of terrific saves. An unbelievable showing from Thierry Henry. Possibly the greatest substitution ever—the Bundesliga giants brought on four World Cup champions for the final 10 minutes.
And yet, all anyone can talk about is what happened after 93 minutes of scintillating play.
Thanks a lot, Pep Guardiola.
For the uninitiated, the 43-year-old grumpy manager, as a result of some aggressive, unnecessary tackles from MLS stars Osvaldo Alonso and Will Johnson, refused to shake hands with opposing manager Caleb Porter, offering his best Dikembe Mutombo impression in the process.
SportsCenter's Twitter feed provided a look at the bizarre and attention-grabbing moment:
Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola was not happy with end of MLS All-Star Game, refusing to shake hands afterward. » http://t.co/fAbdQJChVa— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 7, 2014
Alright yeah, it's certainly not something you see every day. It was supposed to be an exhibition, and it ended with the manager of one of the best clubs in the world going on a tantrum. It's something worth talking about.
But it's not the only thing worth talking about.
Instead, let's talk about a pair of unbelievable strikes from Bayern's Robert Lewandowski and the New York Red Bulls' Bradley Wright-Phillips:
Let's talk about Henry's performance. The former Arsenal and Barcelona superstar is 36 years old and seemed to be playing at about half speed, but it didn't matter. For the first 45 minutes, he was the best player on the pitch, delivering a slew of beautiful balls and nearly scoring on a gorgeous volley from outside the box.
Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl, much like the rest of us, was especially astonished by the latter:
And moments like that from Thierry Henry are why you bother to watch the All-Star game. Good lord.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) August 7, 2014
Let's talk about the moment when Henry, an international legend, was replaced by Donovan, an American legend. The 32-year-old Galaxy star discussed the honor of such an event, per Fox Sports' Kyle McCarthy:
Donovan on Henry: "I told him it's an honor to be subbed in for him. He's had an unbelievable career. I was proud to come on for him." #mls— Kyle McCarthy (@kylejmccarthy) August 7, 2014
While we're here, let's talk about Donovan's goal. It wasn't just the game-winner. It wasn't just a record-setter. It wasn't just against Manuel Neuer, arguably the best player from last month's World Cup. It wasn't just a moment of redemption after a tumultuous year that saw him snubbed from Jurgen Klinsmann's team in Brazil.
It was a fitting sendoff, as he ended up announcing his retirement Thursday afternoon.
Let's talk about the thrilling final moments that saw Guardiola bring on Philipp Lahm, Thomas Muller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Gotze and Arjen Robben.
Let's talk about the terrific television ratings, via AwfulAnnouncing.com's Steve Lepore, just another indication that soccer in the United States continues to grow:
I'm sure this is out there, but the MLS All-Star Game drew 862,000 viewers on ESPN2.— Steve Lepore (@stevelepore) August 7, 2014
862,000 viewers for MLS All-Star Game is up big from 530,000 for 2013. Not bad, considering 10 p.m. start on ESPN2.— Steve Lepore (@stevelepore) August 7, 2014
So yes, Guardiola's actions—whether justified or not—are interesting, but let's not let them overshadow what was easily one of the most thrilling All-Star games—in any sport—in recent memory.