As controversial as aspects got on the field, the 2014 MLS All-Star Game was one of the greatest footballing spectacles in the United States.
Physical play, audacious attempts, and devastating breaks unearthed the desire players from both teams had in winning the exhibition. Bayern Munich showed their class in the first half, and the MLS All-Stars countered with theirs in the second.
Since the match was just a friendly, many of the takeaways are inconclusive, but there were points to draw from the Bayern side nonetheless:
- In this friendly more than the rest, Bayern's lack of depth in defense reared its ugly head. Seattle Sounders forward Obafemi Martins admitted after the game that they were trying to exploit David Alaba and Rafinha in the center of defense. "In the first half we tried to make the defenders tired a little bit, trying to run around and trying to play as well," Martins said. Guardiola decided to leave Badstuber out of the game after he played all the preseason matches in July. With Jerome Boateng and Dante back in the fold, the adjustments in defense Guardiola plans on making will be worth watching.
- The best aspect of Bayern and Guardiola teams over the past five years is how fluid they are no matter who is on the pitch. That happened again in the first half, players finding runs as if they were on a training pitch. Giancula Gaudino continued his stellar preseason, playing a bit higher as Rode sat back. Even though Guardiola might not be happy with the overall result, he was constantly praising the first-half performance: "In the first half, we created many chances. We arrived in the back line many times and we played [well]."
- There are no more adjectives to describe how well Robert Lewandowski has played in Bayern shirt, and it is still only the preseason. The majestic slice of his goal and the difficulty of how he took it demonstrated his pure class as a striker, but even his movement off the ball was breathtaking to watch. The salivating aspect of it was that he did not have the supporting cast around him that will be encompassing him once the domestic season starts.
- Outside of the circus aspect of the World Cup players putting in a brief shift, the interesting aspect now is the expectation that Philipp Lahm will play in midfield. He paired with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martínez in the center of midfield, trying to dictate the play as well as his jet-lagged body could. Guardiola had a lot of moving parts accommodating all eight of his returnees, so some of the set up should be taken with a grain of salt.
- If nothing else, Guardiola spaced out the substitutions of his players perfectly. He allowed Julian Green to have his moment in the first half, the crowd elating at his entrance. Manuel Neuer, Dante, and Boateng all came in to stabilize a tiring defense, and the massive substitution in the 80th minute allowed for the Bayern fans to cheer their favorite players first-hand.
The team is now back in Munich, where they will prepare for the DFL Supercup against Borussia Dortmund next Wednesday.