Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando started the 2014 MLS All-Star Game against German giant Bayern Munich FC on Wed. August 6 as the claret and cobalt's lone representative. In recent All-Star games, the visiting European superpower was the first to score, early and often.
In Wednesday's game at Providence Park in Portland, Rimando was the latest victim of a European superclub. Bayern scored first in just the 7th minute on a brilliant strike from forward Robert Lewandowski--who took a clever diagonal pass on the bounce from between two MLS defenders and ripped a half-volley past Rimando.
Rimando exited the match at halftime after making several highlight reel saves at point-blank range--something to which RSL fans are accustomed.
By that point in the game. the German visitors had gone stunningly cold. Some of Bayern's ineptitude Wednesday should be contributed to a 12-hour flight and head coach Pep Guardiola's decision to play the majority of his starters for just 10 minutes. But MLS, who entered this All-Star Game riding a one-game skid to Euro superpowers, had other ideas about how the game should go.
Coached by firebrand Portland Timbers man Caleb Porter, the All-Star team's approach to Wednesday's showcase resembled that of its coach: a never-say-die, take-no-prisoners attitude that included hard, two-footed tackles on Bayern players still in pre-season form.
In other words, it was like taking the Cobra-Kai-do-or-die karate dojo against scrawny little Daniel LaRusso when he hadn't yet learned how to wax on and wax off. MLS may have won the game 2-1 over its German counterparts with a late goal from soon-to-be-retiring Landon Donovan, closing the final chapter of the LA Galaxy and U.S. legend's storied career.
And MLS may have matched Lewandowski's strike when New York Red Bulls Bradley Wright-Phillips hammered his own half-volley howitzer into the net in the 47th minute--albeit with the left foot, not the right.
But, Porter's aggressive style definitely didn't win over his German opponents--in particular Guardiola, who refused to shake Porter's hand post-game. There were scattered media reports that the two coaches and teams entered into a gentleman's agreement to keep it clean before the game--but nothing was confirmed.
Yet it was painfully obvious based on the number of hard fouls that MLS committed--particuarly those from former RSL man and current Timbers star Will Johnson and usual suspect of the Seattle Sounders, Osvaldo Alonso--that the North Americans did not come to Portland to lose.
Out of all the Bayern stars, only Lewandowski played 80 minutes. The remainder of Bayern's elite--including its five German World Cup heroes--played about 10 minutes in total, making cameo appearances towards the game's death.