It has been one of the worst kept secrets in American soccer, but the opponent for the 2014 MLS All-Stars has been announced.
First Merritt Paulson hinted at it, then rumors of it came out of Germany, then Paulson hinted some more, the the club posted about it on their own website, but finally MLS has made it official: Bayern Munich will be the MLS All-Stars' opponents here in Portland for the 2014 MLS All-Star Game on August 6th.
Bayern have win the German Bundesliga 23 times in their 113 year history, more than any other team, and are currently in first place again, four points ahead of their nearest competition. They have also won the UEFA Champions League five times, including the most recent edition of the competition in 2013.
The German's potent club history has made them a premier side for stars from Germany, like their club captain Philipp Lahm, and across the world, including the exciting attacking duo of France's Franck Ribery and Holland's Arjen Robben. While MLS clubs worry about the handful of players who will be out of the league for the World Cup, there are only a handful of players on the Bayern Munich squad that will not be headed to Brazil next summer.
This is clearly a big get for MLS. While the league has entertained big names in the past, none have come to the US the year after winning a Champions League title. The possibility of hosting such a game is an exciting one, even for those opposed to the idea of a midseason All-Star Game, particularly with a team featuring so many players from Germany and Brazil, two of the years' favorites to win the World Cup.
Fans of the Portland Timbers will recall the team's 2-0 victory over Bayern Munich II back in 2009, a match that featured names like Stephen Keel and Alex Nimo.
The league's press release:
FC Bayern Munich to Play MLS All-Stars
Champions of Europe Bring Cast of International Stars to Portland’s JELD-WEN Field
PORTLAND, Ore. (December 12, 2013) – Major League Soccer today announced that FC Bayern Munich, the reigning champions of Europe and the German Bundesliga, will face the MLS All-Stars in the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game. The annual match will be played August 6, 2014 (9:30 p.m. ET) at JELD-WEN Field, the home of the Portland Timbers. The game will be televised live on ESPN2, UniMás and Univision Deportes Network (UDN) in the United States, TSN and RDS in Canada, and in more than 130 countries worldwide. FC Bayern will act as Bundesliga ambassadors for the Deutsche Fußball-Liga GmbH, who have been fully supportive of the trip.
For the eleventh time in the event’s 19-year history, an international club will take on the MLS All-Stars, who have a 5-3-1 record in this highly competitive and entertaining format. In addition to honoring the best players in MLS, the game has featured successful, world-famous clubs such as Manchester United (2010 & 2011), Everton FC (2009), Chelsea FC (2006 & 2012), AS Roma (2012) and Chivas de Guadalajara (2003).
"The AT&T MLS All-Star Game is one of the premier soccer events on the North American sports calendar," said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. "We are pleased that Bayern Munich, one of the most prominent and successful clubs in the world, will be part of our All-Star celebration. This will be the first MLS special event in Portland since the Timbers joined the League in 2011. One of the great stories in Major League Soccer over the last number of years has been the enormous fan passion, civic support and stadium atmosphere in Portland. We look forward to showcasing this phenomenon to the rest of the world."
"The MLS All-Star Game is an important step for us concerning our international strategy. We see the United States as a very important market, and we want to familiarize our existing fans and followers as well as soccer fans in general with our brand, team and philosophy," said Jöerg Wacker, FC Bayern Munich board member who oversees the internationalization strategy for the club.
"It’s an honor for us to be the first German club to play the MLS All-Star Game. MLS is experiencing great development and we are very much looking forward to compete against the best players of MLS," said Pep Guardiola, FC Bayern Munich head coach.
Bayern captured the 2013 UEFA Champions League title by emphatically taking down the pre-tournament favorites FC Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate in the semifinals, before winning the final 2-1 over Borussia Dortmund. It was the fifth European title for Bayern, but their first in 12 years. The Champions League title was one of three trophies secured during the 2012-13 campaign, as Bayern also added their 23rd Bundesliga title and the German Cup. In late August, FC Bayern Munich defeated Europa League Champion Chelsea FC in penalty kicks to win the 2013 UEFA Super Cup– its fifth official title this year. Bayern could add another title later this month, as the club begins play at the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco on December 17.
Founded in 1900, Bayern boasts a lineup of international superstars, such as Franck Ribery (France), Arjen Robben (Holland),Mario Mandžukić(Croatia) and Javi Martinez (Spain), together with German national team stalwarts, such as Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Manuel Neuer, Toni Kroos, Mario Götzeand Thomas Müller. They are coached by former FC Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, who took charge of the club at the start of the 2013-2014 season. Bayern have continued their winning ways under Guardiola this season, as the club is currently unbeaten in the Bundesliga and in first place with 41 points.
The AT&T MLS All-Star Game is part of Bayern Munich’s 2014 North American tour. The remaining details of the tour will be announced at a later date.
"AT&T is proud to help bring some of the best soccer players in the world to Portland for this rare matchup," said George Granger, president of AT&T Oregon. "We’ve got some great things in the works for fans, including onsite festivities and exclusive mobile content."
The Portland Timbers will host the AT&T MLS All-Star Game at JELD-WEN Field, the 20,674-seat stadium that is regarded as one of the loudest venues in all of North America, with one of the most passionate fan bases. The 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game will be the first major league all-star event of any kind played in the Rose City.
"We are very pleased to welcome Bayern Munich – easily the biggest club to play in Portland," said Merritt Paulson, owner and president of the Timbers. "The inclusion of Bayern Munich to the 2014 AT&T All-Star Game complements an already historic, world-class event for the city of Portland and Major League Soccer."