Guardiola on MLS All-Stars & US Soccer Culture
Sixteen camera teams and reporters from all over the country packed the room at the Nines Hotel in Portland eagerly awaiting the MLS All-Star Game press conference. FC Bayern are taking on the best of the best from Major League Soccer in the annual match on Wednesday at 6:30pm PDT at Providence Park. Head coach Pep Guardiola was joined by Julian Green, Robert Lewandowski and Franck Ribery on stage to speak on the match, soccer in the US and the World Cup winners that will join the team ahead of the game. "We are happy to be here to play against the best of MLS. This game will be a part of our preparation for the new season," commented Guardiola at the start of the press conference.
Appreciation for US soccer culture
The entire city of Portland is excited for Wednesday's match, and the growing enthusiasm and excitement for soccer in the city and country has been very noticeable, especially for Guardiola who spent a year in the US before he joined Bayern. "I learned a lot about the soccer culture here during that year. Soccer is getting better and better and so is the love for the sport. It is a process and it's a huge country but if they focus on becoming the best team in the world they can do it, much like they have in basketball, golf, etc."
Bayern's new star forward, Robert Lewandowski, also took notice of the growing significance of the game in the US. "I've been to America before and noticed how special the soccer culture is there. Many players want to come to MLS nowadays." His teammate, Franck Ribery, shared the same admiration for the league and the development of the game in the US, "That many more players want to come and play here has been a great development. Soccer culture here has a lot of potential after the World Cup and there are a lot of talented young players."
World Cup winners will be there
Guardiola also commented on the World Cup winners that will join the team this week for the All-Star Game, "they will have traveled a lot to get here. I'm going to talk to them and see how they feel and how much they trained in the last three weeks."
A total of eight first-team players that took part in the World Cup semifinals have yet to join the team, but the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer and Philipp Lahm will all be in Portland confirmed Guardiola, "they deserved their time off and to forget about soccer for a while. After we speak to them we will see what's best. Maybe they will play around 15 minutes but they will be there for the game."