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Archive Feature, Part 3

Bayern in the USA: Kahn and the Beach Boys

FC Bayern are set to ‘Go West’ on 30 July for a nine-day tour of the USA. Pep Guardiola and his team will be based in New York and then Portland/Oregon, as the Bavarians continue a long transatlantic tradition that has seen the Reds play from the East Coast to California and the Great Lakes to Florida. In our three-part archive feature, recalls the club’s previous trips to the USA over the last 54 years.

Part 3: Chicago, Miami, New York

2004: Marketing, training, Man Utd

The four-day trip to Chicago in July 2004 was essentially a marketing and pre-season training exercise. Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was forced to stay at home due to illness, and the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Willy Sagnol, Claudio Pizarro and Lucio were absent injured on 22 July when Bayern set off for the city of 2.8 million on the shores of Lake Michigan. “The trip is part of our global strategy,” Uli Hoeneß explained.

A crowd of enthusiastic fans greeted the stars and collected autographs in Chicago, with Hoeneß interpreting for boss Felix Magath at a press conference. “I'm surprised. I thought men's football was still in its infancy in the USA,” commented Oliver Kahn. No fewer than 6,000 fans turned out to watch a public training session.

With only two weeks left until the Bundesliga restart and the club’s Euro 2004 participants only just back from vacation, coach Magath’s focus was fitness training and a friendly meeting with Manchester United on 26 July. The Premier League club fielded a reserve team and Bayern dominated the match despite their evident weariness. The 65,000 crowd at Soldier Field and the millions watching on national TV witnessed a goalless draw, but Kahn emerged as the hero in his first match after the summer break. The giant keeper saved penalties from Alan Smith and John O'Shea, but Torsten Frings, Mehmet Scholl, Michael Ballack and Roque Santa Cruz scored for Bayern to win the match 4–2 in the shootout.

Hoeneß was pleased with the brief trip. “We've fulfilled our objectives of raising our profile and image in the USA,” he said.

2006: Beach Boys and good-bye Liza

Bayern’s ten-day trip to the States two years later took place against a very different background. The men from Munich had retained their domestic double but were without 11 stars due to the World Cup, so having a good time was the priority. “We're looking forward to enjoying the beach and the sun,” said Magath when the FCB party set off for Miami on 19 May. Roy Makaay added: “We want to enjoy ourselves as a group.”

And they did: the ‘squad’ of 18 including the physiotherapists and kit man rode jet skis, encountered alligators, turtles and snakes on an airboat trip in the Everglades, drew applause from local sunbathers with an array of skills in beach football matches, and played countless rounds of cards.

Hasan Salihamidzic, Jens Jeremies, Mehmet Scholl and Co packed their bags after five days and headed for New York, where they visited Ground Zero, the Empire State Building and Central Park, and took in a New York Yankees baseball match. Uli Hoeneß, who had joined the group in Manhattan accompanied by four reserve players, personally supplied tickets for hit musical Phantom of the Opera.

The sightseeing activities were complemented by PR and interview appointments in New York. Magath addressed a group of junior players and supervised a light training session prior to his team’s friendly against Red Bull New York on 27 May. The match was significant in one special respect as long-serving superstar Bixente Lizarazu made his final appearance as a pro.

The multiple medal-winning France star captained Bayern in front of a 5,173 crowd at Giants Stadium. Claudio Pizarro twice handed Munich the lead, but the post-season weariness took its toll in the second period and the home team won it 4–2, Jean-Philippe Peguero (2), Edson Buddle and Amado Guevara scoring for the Bulls. But it did nothing to dampen the holiday mood and it was a happy and relaxed group who flew home the following day.