By FRANCO PANIZO
PORTLAND, Ore. — The scene that immediately followed the MLS All-Star Game’s conclusion was not one that you would typically see after a glorified friendly: Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola wagging his finger to say no to MLS All-Star head coach Caleb Porter, who had outstretched his arm for the routine postgame handshake.
It was an insulting gesture from Guardiola, and one he did not care to discuss much at all during his press conference.
Whether it was because his club blew an early one-goal lead or the fact that there were a few hard and maybe unnecessary fouls from the MLS All-Stars or a combination of both, the uber-competitive Guardiola grew frustrated throughout the MLS All Stars’ 2-1 victory at Providence Park on Wednesday night. The Spanish boss was visibly peeved midway through the second half when Osvaldo Alonso wiped out Xherdan Shaqiri, and his temper only worsened after Will Johnson brought down Bastian Schweinsteiger in the 89th minute.
Not long after, the already-irritated Guardiola heard the final whistle blow and was forced to accept that his star-studded squad had suffered defeat. But he wasted no time after the entertaining battle to say that he would like a rematch in next summer’s MLS All-Star Game.
“I hope they invite us next year so we can try and to make the revenge,” said Guardiola, who allegedly shook hands with Porter in the locker room. “I will prepare a little bit better and we will be sure of what is going on and we will prepare much better. We will do it. I hope our invitation is coming.”
Porter admitted after the match that he was proud of beating someone who he considers one of his idols, but he initially tried to avoid talking about Guardiola’s disrespectful act. The Portland Timbers head coach instead tried to drive the focus towards the result and MLS All-Stars’ performance.
“There’s no reason for me to even talk about it,” said Porter. “Coaches get heated and, certainly, you’ve seen me in games and there was so much good to talk about tonight during the game that for me there’s no reason to make that a story.”
Pushed on the subject later in his press conference, Porter opened up a bit more. He again tried to relate to Guardiola’s position given the circumstances but said that he thought the plays were just tackles that went wrong, which occurs from time to time.
“I thought the tackles that happened were unfortunate and wasn’t like I was happy about them, but there’s things that happen in a soccer game,” said Porter. “There was no ill intent. I understand the frustration completely because they’re in preseason. I’ve been in games in preseason with my teams and you do get sometimes wound up with things like that happen.
“…I understand completely why there was some emotion there, but we certainly didn’t mean to do anything negative in the game and we have the utmost respect for Bayern, their players, Pep – the guy is an idol of mine.”
Porter was not the only one who tried to relate to Guardiola’s position. MLS All-Star striker Thierry Henry, who previously played under the successful Spaniard, also stated that Guardiola’s reaction was normal given what had transpired in the entertaining and at times physical match.
“I was on the other side before and it is what it is. You have to defend (your players),” said Henry. “If that happened to us, I would’ve got up the same way and said, ‘What is this?’
“Nothing more, nothing less.”