PORTLAND, Ore. – When the MLS All-Stars take the field on Wednesday night, they will be doing it against arguably the best soccer team in the world (9:30 pm ET on ESPN2, UniMas, TSN and RDS).
At least that's what MLS top scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips, Portland Timbers captain Will Johnson and Columbus Crew veteran defender Michael Parkhurst call reigning German champions Bayern Munich, winners of the 2012-13 UEFA Champions League and semifinalists in 2013-14.
Their annual trophy haul, which rivals any European giant over recent seasons, has defined the team's image more than any coach, player or playing style in club history.
"Winning," said Toronto FC star Michael Bradley, who played against Bayern during his days at Borussia Mönchengladbach. "The reputation they have in Germany and across Europe is one of success and winning championships. You look at their history in the Bundesliga and playing in Champions League and they’re a team that’s consistently fighting to win."
"Titles. Always," says Bayern forward Claudio Pizzarro about what defines success at the club. "At Bayern Munich, they need titles. Winning titles and playing well is a lot better. But always winning titles."
However, trophies have taken the Bavarian giants only so far in their quest to gain a worldwide fan base that rivals the likes of Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid. To that end, they recently opened a New York headquarters and they're about to wrap up their first US tour since 2004.
As their marketing machine gets revved up in the hope of lifting the team's brand to new heights, manager Pep Guardiola will look to keep the steamroller on course. Their first attempt at silverware in the new season: next Wednesday, August 13, in the German Super Cup against rivals Borussia Dortmund.
"People will look back on the guys on this team and Pep as coach and say that these are some of the best players to ever play and ever coach the game," Johnson said. "They just get the job done time and time again. To do that at this level is what’s impressive. And to do that over a long period of time is not easy at all. They make it look so easy."
"I know how hard it is to stay at the top and win and they’ve been doing it forever," said New York Red Bulls superstar Thierry Henry. "So you have to give them their credit and it’s going to be a hell of a challenge for us to contain that team and win the game with the little amount of time we have together."
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