Pep Guardiola is very familiar with the United States.
After leading FC Barcelona stateside for a couple of US tours, he spent his year-long sabbatical in New York City before taking the job at Bayern Munich, the defending German champions who will tour the US for two preseason matches: vs. Chivas Guadalajara (July 31 at Red Bull Arena, 8 pm ET) and at the AT&T MLS All-Star Game (Aug. 6 at Providence Park, 9:30 pm ET).
And based on what he saw at the 2014 World Cup, Guardiola feels strongly about what the United States needs to do in order to take the next step towards being "a reality in the football world," as he referred to the current state of American soccer.
"In the end, good talents make football better and that’s the most important thing," Guardiola explained on a Tuesday teleconference call with US-based media. "Take the best coaches possible and work with the academies and young players and try to focus and be patient, patient and patient and in the next few years they are going [to be] stronger and the national team will be stronger. And [if] this happens when [the USA] play in the World Cup, they can be better and better.
"I think in America they have big facilities, there’s no problem about that. And [they have] money for investments for good stadiums and good tournaments. it’s just focusing on creating good, young talents for success in the future."
Guardiola lauded US manager Jurgen Klinsmann for his role in guiding the USA out of the Group of Death at the World Cup – "the United States is making a lot and lot of steps forward about [Klinsmann's] idea and his concept of football."
But the former Spain midfielder was especially effusive in his praise for the US backline in Brazil: "Their movement was really, really, really, really good."
Guardiola will get to face a few of those defenders in the AT&T MLS All-Star Game on August 6 with the likes of Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy) and DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders) making the 23-man MLS squad. They're all products of a league that Guardiola feels is very much on the rise.
"The league is better than before. That is a fact," Guardiola said when discussing the state of MLS. "The United States has the most important sports in the world. When they are focused on basketball, tennis or golf, they are the best. So when this happens, when they are focused on football [soccer] and develop it, they’ll make it better, better and better."