Portland - Back in the United States for the first time since 2004, FC Bayern München’s gruelling nine-day tour was nothing short of an unprecedented success, despite culminating in a 2-1 defeat to the MLS All-Star Team in its showpiece event.
Bayern in the USA
From competitive fixtures to public training sessions, the German record titleholders took North America by storm as fans turned out in their thousands to get a glimpse of FCB’s star-studded squad, including the 2014 FIFA World Cup winners, who joined up with the team on Wednesday.
“The globalisation process is something we knew we had to be a part of. I think we’ve represented the name FC Bayern München and with it the Bundesliga admirably,” said club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who, following initial visa problems, was on hand earlier in the tour to open the FC Bayern New York office, one of several ground-breaking occasions enjoyed by the all-conquering Bavarians. “The targets that we set ourselves have all been completely realised.”
Not the only major European team to travel stateside this summer, FC Bayern arguably made the biggest impact, leaving an indelible impression on the American public that has solidified their status as one of the world’s best-supported sides. With loyal supporters flocking from all corners of the United States, none left disappointed, even those that witnessed their side suffer a first pre-season defeat in Oregon on Wednesday.
Pole-axed in Portland
The atmosphere inside Providence Park matched those witnessed at Bundesliga stadiums around Germany over the course of a season and, buoyed by the support, Pep Guardiola’s charges got off to the perfect start. Robert Lewandowski broke the deadlock in the eighth minute with an effort right out of the top drawer, his fifth during pre-season for his new club, providing another glimpse of what’s to come from the 25-year-old in the 2014/15 campaign.
However, after Xherdan Shaqiri and Julian Green passed up opportunities to extend the lead before the break, Bayern’s dominance waned in the second period, as Bradley Wright-Phillips produced a wonder strike of his own to level the scores. It was then left to Landon Donovan, featuring against his former club, to turn the game on its head with 20 minutes remaining, a setback from which Bayern were unable to recover.
Still, this was an occasion to savour for all involved. The returning World Cup winners Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Götze and Thomas Müller were undoubtedly the centrepieces of the MLS All-Star game, and the reception they received as they entered the fray at various stages of the second half underlined their legendary status amongst the Bayern faithful. Supporters left the stadium fearing the worst after Schweinsteiger suffered a nasty turn of his ankle following a late challenge by Will Johnson, but the Kolbermoor-born midfielder later revealed he suffered "just a bruise".
Bayern have struggled on the back of summers involving World Cup duties in recent years, finishing fourth in 2006 and third in 2010. However, in Guardiola, they have a man who successfully navigated such situations during his time at FC Barcelona, as well as and players still chomping at the bit to lift trophies. “I’m still as hungry and ambitious as ever having won the double and the World Cup,” said Manuel Neuer.
Up next for die Münchner, who flew back to Germany on Thursday with an invaluable experience behind them, is a trip to Dortmund to face-off with Jürgen Klopp's Borussia. in the DFL Supercup. One of only two trophies Guardiola is yet to lift with FCB, there will be no shortage of motivation. “This is when things really kick-off,” explained captain Philipp Lahm. “We’ve got to go full throttle because there’s not much time left.”