PORTLAND, Ore. – In the end, Landon Donovan got the last laugh.
The 14-time MLS All-Star came back to haunt the club that jettisoned him after just a few months of a failed 2009 loan appearance with the game-winning goal Wednesday against for a 2-1 win over Bayern Munich in the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game. The 70th-minute strike came after Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski and All-Star Bradley Wright-Phillips traded goals on opposite ends of halftime, highlight a match in which MLS gave the German giants all that they could handle – and more – on a warm evening at Providence Park.
Donovan, who came on in the 47th minute for another member of MLS royalty in Thierry Henry, got behind the defense on a long feed from hometown star Diego Valeri from the right wing, shucked Bayern defender Rafinha as he tried to recover, and slotted past the man considered to be the finest goalkeeper in the world in Manuel Neuer.
Donovan was subbed off a minute later to a resounding ovation.
But first, the All-Stars got back into the match through Wright-Phillips.
Making his first All-Star appearance, the MLS Golden Boot leader with 18 goals took a long ball from Bobby Boswell, superbly flicked on by Erick “Cubo” Torres, in perfect stride and struck a left-footed blast to the far top corner, a shot that gave a sprawling Tom Starke, Bayern’s starter in goal, no chance.
The night also saw Henry’s legend honored.
The star New York Red Bulls attacker, a fan-favorite and one of the best players on the pitch all evening, got the start in what could be his final All-Star Game and in the 47th minute was subbed out to a standing ovation. In the 41st minute, he nearly put what would have been a fitting cap on his memorable evening when a loose ball found him 25 yards out from goal, but his knuckling volley sailed just high.
Lewandowski was the star of the first half, and there wasn’t much the MLS All-Stars could have done about it.
A minute after being stoned by Nick Rimando, the Polish international and Bayern’s new prize acquired from rival Borussia Dortmund this offseason, was played in again by Rafinha and out-fought Aurelien Collin to get space for a right-footed top-shelf blast that the Real Salt Lake ‘keeper had no chance at.
After Lewandowski’s flash of brilliance – aside from the anticipated possession work from Bayern – the All-Stars acquitted themselves nicely for the remainder of the half and game.
The backline was first put to the test over the next few minutes.
In the 11th minute, Claudio Pizarro blew by Matt Besler for a cross to Pizarro, but his attempt was blocked. Five minutes later, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg played back to a charging Sebastian Rode for a diving header that was just wide.
But then the All-Stars rocked on to their front foot.
In the 17th minute, Henry played in for Obafemi Martins, who just narrowly missed getting a foot on the feed. They put together their best sequence of the early action in the 26th minute when Michael Parkhurst started a build-up that went through Tim Cahill, Martins, Michael Bradley and finally to the right wing for DeAndre Yedlin. And the young Seattle Sounders star hit a tantalizing cross across the goalmouth, but neither Clint Dempsey nor Cahill could get a touch on it.
Four minutes later, Seattle teammates got together in the 30th minute when Martins picked out Dempsey with a long ball down the right wing. Starke, however, was up the task on his first tough test of the night.
MLS ‘keeper Rimando put his mark on the game with a signature reaction save on a point-blank Hojbjerg chip.
US national team starlet Julian Green, who came on for Bayern in the 37th minute to chants of “USA, USA” in place of Pizarro, had his first chance six minutes later when he was played through nicely for a good look at goal, but Rimando was more than up the task.
Both teams made wholesale changes in the second half.
And MLS’ second-half ‘keeper, D.C. United’s Bill Hamid, got into the act with a game-saving effort in the 88th minute when Thomas Muller got on the end of a Mario Gotze feed for a right-footed blast.
He also stoned Juan Bernat in the 79th minute who had a nice look from the center of the box on a cross from Switzerland World Cup hero Xherdan Shaquiri.
And in the final minutes, the All-Stars hung on through a final Bayern push, with their last-gasp effort coming from Gotze in the first minute of stoppage time on a blast from distance that was far too high.