Portland is a city that quickly and massively embraced soccer in the United States, well before their MLS team, the Portland Timbers, played their first league match in only 2011.
The Timbers are among the Top 3 MLS teams in terms of average attendance and have sold out every single home game in their short history. The rabid enthusiasm of the hometown crowd and the club’s supporters, known as the Timbers Army, makes Portland a natural host for the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday evening.
Since 2005, the annual MLS All-Star game has been a match between one side of top MLS players against an iconic international club team. All-time, MLS is 5-4 against its opponents. Last season the MLS All-Stars fell 3-1 to Italian team AS Roma and will be looking for redemption this year as they host current German league champions Bayern Munich.
With the World Cup nearly a month gone, fans of the sport can continue to get their fix of world-class play while casual and skeptical viewers have an opportunity to be exposed to the beautiful game as its played by the best talent in the MLS and one of the most storied teams in German history in front of an amped-up crowd at a beautiful venue. The game falls only three days after a friendly between European giants Real Madrid and Manchester United attracted a record-setting crowd of 109,000 at the University of Michigan’s Big House.
Although Portland has yet to field their own championship team, the pitch at Jeld-Wen Field on August 6 will feature a number of superstars who have earned the highest honors at both the club and international level. The MLS All-Star Team includes several members of the United States Men’s National Team that recently played in the World Cup in Brazil, as well as former MLS-Cup Champions and other international stars.
Recent USMNT members include Graham Zusi and Matt Besler from Sporting Kansas City; Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin from the Seattle Sounders; Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando from Real Salt Lake; Michael Bradley from Toronto FC and Omar Gonzales from the LA Galaxy, although Gonzalez is inactive for the game. All-time MLS scoring leader and five-time MLS Cup champion Landon Donovan of the LA Galaxy will also be playing in the match after being famously left off the World Cup roster by US head coach Jürgen Klinsmann.
The MLS roster also features French legend Thierry Henry; Australian World Cup veteran Tim Cahill; English crossover Bradley Wright-Phillips and Mexican youngster Erick Torres among many other talented players from around the globe.
Three members of Portland’s very own Timbers will defend the Rose City with the MLS All-Stars on Wednesday evening including defender Liam Ridgewell, and midfielders Diego Valeri and Will Johnson.
Tomorrow’s opponents Bayern Munich arrive in Portland having just won their 23rd German Bundesliga title in the team’s 114-year existence. The club’s success is understandable when you consider that most of the squad is composed of players who represented their countries at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and more than half are from the World Cup Champion German National Team including Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philip Lahm, Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng, Mario Gotze and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Perhaps the most intriguing player on the Bayern squad to keep an eye on during the match is 19-year-old American prodigy Julian Green, who scored for the US in his World Cup debut this summer. Raised in the German youth leagues, Green is often regarded as the future of the US Men’s National Team. The game puts him in the national spotlight for the first time since his promising performance in the World Cup.
Other nationalities represented on Bayern Munich are French star Franck Ribéry; Polish national Robert Lewandowski, Dutchman Arjen Robben; Brazilian Dante; Javin Martinez of Spain and Xherdan Shaqiri of Switzerland.
The 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game is Wednesday, August 6 at 9:30PM ET.
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