All-Star players enjoying brief change of pace

The MLS All-Star period is a short one, but it's an opportunity to unwind that the league's stars have come to appreciate.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Although the Major League Soccer season is about to enter the home stretch, its marquee players aren't preparing themselves to face off for playoff points. Instead, they're taking part in the four-day respite offered by the MLS All-Star break, playing "FIFA" and taking selfies.

It's a somewhat peculiar situation, rival superstars hanging out and training together in the midst of the season, but the players are enjoying the brief change of pace as they prepare to play Bayern Munich in the league's annual exhibition.

"Just spending time with the guys," answered Golden Boot leader Bradley Wright-Phillips when asked what his favorite part of the week was. "It's good, bring everyone together, and there's a lot of respect there.

"Clint (Dempsey) man, he's a funny guy. I could be around him a lot. He makes it easy."

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Wright-Phillips' New York Red Bulls teammate, Tim Cahill, echoed the Englisman's enthusiasm.

"To hang with (Matt) Besler and players like that, Maurice Edu and (Nick) Rimando, just chill out — Clint is an amazing ambassador for his country — they've all got so much time for everyone," said the Australian World Cup hero. "It's really, really good to see. It's just good to hang and chill with all the boys. It's a pleasure to hang out with these guys."

Michael Bradley, who played last year's All-Star game as a member of the opposition with Roma, was appreciative of the unique nature of the festivities.

"Even if it's just a friendly, there's a buzz and there's an excitement," said the Toronto midfielder. "We're all excited to be a part of this and step on the field tomorrow."

But even the famously intense Bradley said he took pleasure in the social aspect of the All-Star squad.

"You enjoy spending time with all different guys from around the league," he said. "Guys that you play against that you are fighting with a little bit, you're now on the same side. For all of us, that's something we enjoy, you get to know guys a little better.

"In a lot of cases, guys surprise you. Guys who as opponents can rub you the wrong way or you think you know, you don't really like him, you spend some time with him and get to know him, you walk away feeling like it was enjoyable."

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