Bayern Munich brings own stars to Portland

German champs ready to take on MLS All-Stars

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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PORTLAND — FC Bayern Munich's World Cup stars were expected to arrive in Portland sometime Tuesday, just in time to take part in Wednesday's Major League Soccer All-Star Game at Providence Park.

Coming off an extended vacation, it is unlikely that the players who helped Germany win the World Cup in Brazil will see much playing time. Still, the opportunity to play against one of the most successful soccer clubs in the world is a big deal for the all-stars who will represent MLS.

"It's not too often you get to play Bayern Munich in front of a great crowd like this so we're going to try to take advantage of it," Los Angeles Galaxy star Landon Donovan said.

For Bayern Munich, the game is the second of two during a weeklong preseason trip to America. The German champions are tuning up for their 2014-15 league season, which starts in two weeks. This is the first time in 10 years that Bayern has played in the United States.

"It's a pleasure for us to come to the USA and (see) how the people receive us," midfielder Javi Martinez said after fans filled the eastside Providence Park grandstand on Tuesday morning to watch Bayern Munich train.

"To see so many fans at one training is awesome," said Julian Green, the 19-year-old who scored for the United States in its 2-1 loss to Belguim in the World Cup.

With its star-studded roster, Bayern Munich creates buzz wherever it goes. Six members of this team played for Germany's team that won the World Cup, including Mario Götze who scored the Cup-winning goal against Argentina.

Forward Thomas Müller, just 24, scored five times in a World Cup for the second time in helping Germany to the title. Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, defenders Phillip Lahm and Jerome Boateng and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer started for Germany in the World Cup final.

Midfielder Arjen Robben starred for the Netherlands in Brazil, and Martinez played for Spain.

Even if many of the World Cup stars see limited playing time in Wednesday's match, Bayern Munich does not lack for talent. Franck Ribery, one of the top midfielders in Europe, missed the World Cup for France due to injury. Ribery has been with the club during preseason and played in Bayern's 1-0 win over Chivas Guadalajara last week in New Jersey.

Then there is Green, who grew up in Germany but has dual citizenship and chose to play internationally for the United States. Despite his dramatic goal as a late substitute at the World Cup, Green is competing for a spot on Bayern's loaded first team.

In addition to the firepower on the field, Bayern Munich has one of the most respected coaches in the world. A longtime player for Barcelona, Pep Guardiola coached there for four seasons guiding the Spanish club to 14 trophies including the 2010-11 UEFA Champions League title. This is Guardiola's second season in charge of Bayern Munich.

"They have for me the best coach and great players," said Diego Valeri, one of three Portland Timbers on the MLS All-Stars roster, who called Bayern Munich one of the three best clubs in the world."For me it's special," he said. "Maybe it's the only time I will play that style of team. It's a friendly, but I want to win, I want to play well."