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Furious Pep Guardiola still hopes for MLS All-Star Game rematch

The Bayern Munich coach was unhappy about some tackles Wednesday night, but he still practically begged for his team to be invited back next year.

PORTLAND, Ore. — When the final whistle blew and the MLS squad defeated Bayern Munich in Wednesday’s All-Star Game, Caleb Porter readied himself for a handshake he probably thought about quite a bit beforehand.

His coaching idol Pep Guardiola was on the other side of the field. Porter went expecting the handshake but instead received a rebuke from a clearly angered Guardiola, who refused to acknowledge the Timbers coach after a match that had some rough tackles the Bayern manager was clearly unhappy about.

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After the game, Guardiola revealed that German national team midfielder Bastian Schwinsteiger had suffered an ankle injury from a tackle by Will Johnson. He refused to talk about the incident with Porter after the match and looked visibly upset at the steady stream of questions about it. He wouldn’t take the bait but ended his news conference practically begging for an invitation to next year’s All-Star Game.

“It doesn’t matter. It’s happened the way it is,” Guardiola said. “We tried to play and we did. Congratulations to MLS for this victory. I hope they are going to invite us next year to try and make revenge and I hope to prepare a little bit better.

“Now, we will be sure (about) what was going on. We will prepare much better, that we will do it. I hope our invitation is coming.”
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Guardiola wouldn’t go so far as to criticize MLS for the rough tackles by Johnson and Osvaldo Alonso, but his comments seemed to provide some subtle reference to them.

“We came here to play the best ways possible. We came here to respect the football for the fans, to respect our opponents,” Guardiola said. “We came with some of our players having traveled 12 hours just to play 15 minutes to respect this game, to respect MLS and we did it.”

Thierry Henry did receive a handshake and a hug from Guardiola, and afterward he expressed no surprise at Guardiola’s reaction after the match.

“That’s him. He doesn’t like to lose,” Henry said of Guardiola. “No one does at the end of the day, and that’s why he is who he is.”

“That’s such a small part of tonight that, for me, there’s no reason for me to even talk about it,” Porter said. “Coaches get heated and certainly you guys have seen me in games. Like I said, there was so much good to talk about tonight during the game that, for me, there’s no reason to make that a story.”

Porter appeared taken aback by the moment when Guardiola rebuked his handshake attempt, but after the match he said he could understand why Guardiola would be upset.

“I thought the tackles that happened were unfortunate,” said Porter, who confirmed to Goal USA that he and Guardiola shook hands in the locker room after the match. “It wasn’t like I was happy about them, but they’re things that happen in a soccer game. There was no ill intent in those plays. I understand the frustration completely because they’re in preseason. I’ve been in games in preseason with my teams, and you do, you get a little bit sometimes wound up when things like that happen because these guys are getting ready to start the season and these are world-class players.

“As coaches, your job is on the line and you need the best guys in these games. I understand completely why there was some emotion there, but we certainly didn’t mean to do anything negative in the game. We have the utmost respect for Bayern, their players, Pep. I mean, the guy is an idol of mine. I think there were a couple of tackles that went wrong.”

Porter’s comments after the match suggested he hadn’t been too upset with Guardiola’s reaction, though based on the look on Porter’s face, it did appear, at least on the surface, that Guardiola’s reaction upset him on some level.

“Pep’s Caleb’s idol, he looks up to him, so I’m sure he’s a little bit disappointed in his reaction,” Timbers midfielder Johnson told Goal USA. “But I’m sure he’s happy we won the game at the same time.”

When asked about Guardiola practically demanding a rematch in next year’s MLS All-Star Game, Porter had no problem with that idea.

“Good. I’m looking forward to it. I won’t be the coach, so I can go out on top against Pep,” Porter said with a laugh.

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