Portland, OR -- Bayern Munich and the MLS All-Stars will undertake a groundbreaking experience on Wednesday.
Although this is the fourth pilgrimage that the German Giants have made to the United States, they have never played the assembly that will stand opposite them at Providence Park.
"We want to show how important football is here and we want to try of course to win," said Javi Martínez at Tuesday's practice.
While some players have played with or against the Bavarians, many of the MLS All-Stars will have their first experience of the German game. They know that the task ahead of them is steep,
"It is very difficult to stay at the top for a long time and they have been doing it forever," said New York Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry. "We have to give them their credit, and it is going to be hell of a challenge to contain that team."
Two tactically contrasting teams will be taking the turf, and the match will be a United States showcase unlike any other.
The Match (1st Meeting)
Location: Providence Park, Portland, Oregon, United States
Referee: Jair Maruffo
Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com
FC Bayern München
The game does not mean anything in literal terms, but this is the last preseason friendly Bayern has before domestic competition begins. Next Wednesday they play the DFL Supercup against Borussia Dortmund before their first round DFB-Pokal match against Preußen Münster.
"It is an important game, but we have to think that the most important game is next week," said Javi Martínez. "Of course we will try to win, but we [are thinking of] the next year."
Pep Guardiola said in his press conference on Monday that he is focused only on this game, so Bayern will be set up in a way that they can win. The gaffer has continually utilized a three center-back set in the preseason with Jerome Boateng and Dante missing from action, and he will use the likes of David Alaba and Martínez in similar roles to that of the previous friendlies.
Bayern will have the biggest squad of the preseason suiting up for the match, the World Cup semifinal players expected to make a cameo appearance. Pep Guardiola will talk to each of them to ascertain their fitness level, but none of them will play more than 15 minutes.
"They will be there and at the end of the game, more or less, they are going to play," said Guardiola.
Projected Lineup (3-4-3)
Franck Ribéry – Robert Lewandowski – Xherdan Shaqiri
Juan Bernat – Sebastian Rode – Gianluca Gaudino – Pierre-Emile Højbjerg
David Alaba – Holger Badstuber – Javi Martínez
Bench: Manuel Neuer, Leopold Zingerle, Ivan Lucic, Phillipp Walter, Rafinha, Dante, Jérôme Boateng, Diego Contento, Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Ylli Sallahi, Lukas Scholl, Angelos Oikonomou, Julian Green, Arjen Robben, Mario Götze, Thomas Müller, Tobias Schweinsteiger, Michael Eberwein
The event is a great showcase for the American soccer brand, the amalgamation of MLS players will be in a tough position to perform.
"If you win and play well, it probably doesn't matter very much, and if you lose it probably matters a little more," said Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley. "The challenge for us is still to enjoy the week and enjoy the festivities but still make sure that when it's time to step on the field we do so in a way where we are able to play well."
This is a midweek match for this collection of players, and a few have to play a competitive MLS match just two days after suiting up for the All-Star team. Manager Caleb Porter will have a tough task on his hands with MLS executives breathing down his neck, but he has already found a solution to keep his team fit.
"The best thing I can do is keep it simple," said Porter. "Obviously I need to manage the minutes of these players; that's a priority. I want these guys to go back to their clubs healthy, and a lot of them have games Saturday/Sunday. That means we need to manage the minutes of the players and that means we need to play two separate groups.
The team practiced on Tuesday with a two-striker set, a tactic that the MLS All-Stars have used each of the last three matches. Regardless of tactic, the team dynamic will be hard to establish considering the players have had one practice together.
"You have a lot of talented good players from a lot of different perspectives," said LA Galaxy's Landon Donovan. "Caleb has a hard job; who do you put on the field and when.
"We all know how Bayern Munich plays. We've watched them on TV. The hope is that we have enough good soccer brains on our side of the field to make it difficult on them and to give ourselves a chance to win."
The All-Stars have won five times against European teams, including beating Chelsea twice. With many of Bayern's top players missing, they will a chance for a sixth win and another statement for American soccer.
Projected Lineup (4-4-2)
Thierry Henry – Obafemi Martins
Michael Bradley – Graham Zusi
Michael Parkhurst – Matt Besler – Aurelien Collin – DeAndre Yedlin
Bench: Bill Hamid, Bobby Boswell, Sean Franklin, Osvaldo Alonso, Will Johnson, Diego Valeri, Maurice Edu, Tim Cahill, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Dom Dwyer, Erick Torres, Landon Donovan
It will be acclamation against amalgamation; one team will be adjusting to a new environment and new ideas, while the other will be feeling each other's games out. Porter will go after Guardiola's center backs, so Bayern will need to find ways to get the ball forward to their dynamic front three. The ultimate variable will be how each dynamic plays out, and whoever can play the most fluid will be the one who wins the match.
Projected Score: MLS All-Stars (1-3) Bayern Munich