Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri, sitting 4,000 miles away from his home stadium in Turin, Italy, and just minutes removed from a surprising 2-0 friendly win over German legend Bayern Munich, kept hearing one name in every postgame question Wednesday night.
It's the name he hasn't been able to stop talking about for weeks, ever since Juventus acquired the Portuguese superstar July 10 and even long before then, when speculation of the earth-shaking transfer began to swirl. It's also the name that will transform his club from one of Serie A's best to one of the world's best once he arrives, and Allegri knows that. "He always scores goals, so I expect him to do the same with us," he said matter-of-factly through a translator.
But for 90 minutes Wednesday at Lincoln Financial Field, Allegri was able to do his primary job — watching and coaching a soccer game — for the first time since Juventus's 2-1 win over Verona on May 19, more than two months ago.
The match being played in a storm fluctuating between a steady and drenching downpour did not bother him: "It rains all the time this time of year." Neither did his team's mere 31 percent possession and 20-9 shot deficit — "[Bayern] is a team that is further along than us in preparation" for the fall season, he explained — nor the fact that his goal-scorer, Andrea Favilli, is already set to be loaned to Genoa this season rather than actually play for Juventus.
No, Allegri simply appreciated the reprieve from the non-stop Ronaldo storylines and an opportunity to get back to soccer, even if it is just inconsequential International Champions Cup action. From here, Juventus heads to the New York area to face Benfica, then to Atlanta to take on the MLS All-Star Team, and finally Washington to square off against Real Madrid in the club's U.S. tour finale.
"I've been here several times, with Milan, with Juventus — I love the competition, we play big games, and the organization is excellent," Allegri said. "These 15 days are very, very important for me for preparation for the season."
FC Dallas-owned central defender Chris Richards, on loan to Bayern through the end of the year, came on as a substitute at halftime.
Richards, an 18-year-old native of Birmingham, Ala., and product of the FC Dallas academy, made such a positive impression during a 10-day training stint with Bayern in May — arranged through a partnership between the Dallas MLS franchise and the German club — that Bayern signed him to a loan through the end of the calendar year earlier this month.
After a few weeks in Europe, including his first career first-team appearance in Bayern's friendly win over Paris-Saint Germain in Austria this past weekend, Richards said Wednesday that he's enjoying his brief return to the U.S.
"It was a great experience, first time playing in front of a big crowd back home, and I was glad to be out there," he said. "To be able to play in front of [Americans], getting texts from friends saying, 'Hey, I'm going to watch you tonight,' it's a great feeling."
From Philadelphia, Bayern heads south to face Manchester City on Saturday in Miami, and Richards said he'll have friends and family in attendance there. He added that while language has been a major challenge, he's learned much from established Bayern greats such as fellow central defender Javi Martinez.
Bayern manager Niko Kovac offered praise for Richards' performance so far.