On a night that was meant to celebrate the best soccer players in North America and the return to action of Bayern Munich’s World Cup stars, it was a sour moment after the MLS All-Stars’ 2-1 victory that had everybody talking.
Furious over a pair of late, reckless challenges on his players, Bayern coach Pep Guardiola refused to shake hands with All-Star coach Caleb Porter after the final whistle, instead giving him the ol’ Dikembe Mutombo finger wag. Guardiola then showed Porter the cold shoulder all the way to midfield as he bee-lined to accost the referees, the American following his counterpart in vain. The rest of Bayern’s coaching staff also refused to shake hands with Porter.
It was an over-the-top and childish reaction from the Bayern manager, whose image as a class-act might suffer a bit Stateside. But, to play devil’s advocate, you can also understand his beef.
Bastian Schweinsteiger was lucky not to pick up a serious injury after Will Johnson’s clumsy tackle left the Bayern star in a heap and forced him off the field. As was Xherdan Shaqiri after Osvaldo Alonso’s cringe- and almost red-worthy offense earlier in the second half.
Guardiola boiled with anger on the sidelines, presumably already irked that he had to make his returning stars available in the first place for a glorified friendly. Schweinsteiger and the rest of Germany’s World Cup stars had only been under Guardiola’s care for a day, having flown halfway around the world to arrive five hours before kickoff, only to make 10-15 minute cameos. To lose a key man to injury now would be a bitter blow, and for what?
All things considered and given the heat of the moment, Guardiola’s anger at full time can be justified, if not his immature way of dealing with it. Porter, after all, wasn’t the one who committed the challenges.
The All-Star coach took the high road after the game while addressing the rough play:
“I understand completely why there was some emotion there,” Porter said. “But we certainly didn’t mean to do anything negative in the game. We have the utmost respect for their players. Pep, the guy is an idol of mine. There were a couple tackles that went wrong.”
And the two coaches did put out the fire just moments later in the tunnel:
All good with Pep Guardiola and Caleb Porter. With them for nice handshake outside the locker room after the game. #MLSAllStar— Sunil Gulati (@sunilgulati)August 7, 2014
However, by then the Twitterverse had already exploded.
Was Guardiola’s finger wag and handshake snub inexcusable, or do you give him a pass in the heat of the moment and considering the circumstances? We’ll let you be the judge:
Pep should shake hands with Caleb no doubt about that but weren’t the challenges unnecessary from Alonso/Johnson?! #MLSAllStar— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman)August 7, 2014
This is officially a crazy spectacle.— Brian McBride (@BMcBride20)August 7, 2014
Pep Guardiola refusing to shake MLS coach Caleb Porter’s hand postgame. Poor form from the Bayern coaching staff.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl)August 7, 2014
Poor sport Pep. #MLSAllStar— Free Beer Movement (@FreeBeerMovemnt)August 7, 2014
Hopefully Schweinsteiger is not injured. It makes no sense to foul like that in a friendly.— FC Bayern Central (@fcbayerncentral)August 7, 2014
Guardiola’s reaction was uncalled for. Don’t like the tackles? Fine. But that’s football. Can’t bubble wrap your players, even in preseason— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta)August 7, 2014
— Armen Bedakian (@ArmenBedakian)August 7, 2014
Americans are fiercely pro-handshake. Pep Guardiola will understand that now. #MLSAllStar— Church of Soccer (@churchofsoccer)August 7, 2014
The aftermath of this game: Bayern closes their NYC office and abandons the American market forever.— Jason Davis (@davisjsn)August 7, 2014
say what you want about him but bruce arena would have dismissively waved pep’s dismissive finger wag away— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell)August 7, 2014
Let’s all chip in, fly Bayern back here end of November and have 1st team play MLS All-Stars again & see what happens….who’s in? :)— Jeremy St.Louis (@jrstlouis)August 7, 2014
Image via Getty