KANSAS CITY, Kan. — With nearly a month remaining until the Serie A season gets underway for AS Roma, fans saw plenty of encouraging signs during a dominant 3-1 win over the MLS All-Stars on Wednesday night at Sporting Park.
In only their third week of work under new manager Rudi Garcia, the Giallorossi were tactically organized and played a smart game. And although they were happy to win a trophy for their American owners, it was still not enough to totally satisfy the French manager.
"The team played very well and I’m really happy for the third goal which was a collective goal by my team," Garcia said in a postgame press conference. "There is more work to do because we’ve not been able to keep a clean sheet."
While the MLS All-Star team had just one training session in the lead-up to the match, Roma put in three sessions in the 48 hours prior, including on the morning of the match. And the heavy legs were obvious.
"They played today with fatigue and tired legs," Garcia said. "It’s important that when you don’t have the legs, this requires you to play with your head. And they did that today."
The hard work and tactical interchanging of Roma's three-man midfield – American Michael Bradley, Dutchman Kevin Strootman and deep-lying Bosnian playmaker Miralem Pjanic – had a lot to do with the Italian club's success on the day.
"I was very happy with my midfield with Kevin, Michael and Miralem," Garcia said. "For me the midfield is the heart of the game. It’s the heart of the team and the heart of my game. Obviously, that’s why I need several good players in my midfield. Sometimes it’s better to have choices even though it’s more difficult than not having any.
"These are midfielders that know how to change positions and today you saw Kevin, Michael and Miralem that they are capable of pushing forward … You need complementary midfielders and to look for ways to make life complicated for the opponents."
Pjanic delivered the through ball that led to Roma's opening goal in the fourth minute, which was eventually converted by Strootman.
The third goal was a work of art, with Bradley poking forward a ball to an onrushing Strootman who fed Junior Tallo for the momentary 3-0 lead.
"I thought there were a lot of good things," Bradley said in the postgame presser. "Clearly there’s still a lot to work on but there’s time for that. We’re moving ourselves in the right direction."