KANSAS CITY, Kan. – For all of the parties and hype building up to Kansas City's first MLS All-Star game, AS Roma took the match itself seriously. It showed.
The largest crowd in Sporting Park history got treated to a clinic on creative, efficient, aggressive soccer on Wednesday night. It came at the expense of the MLS All-Stars, though, with the Serie A side cruising to a 3-1 victory in front of a standing room-only crowd of 21,175.
Kevin Strootman scored his first goal since joining the Giallorossi, who became just the third foreign club to beat the All-Stars in 11 matches. Alessandro Florenzi and Júnior Tallo added second-half tallies for Roma.
The visitors came out threatening in the offensive third from the opening whistle, and the high pressure – combined with a little luck – paid near-immediate dividends.
Florenzi's through ball up the middle found Strootman streaking in on a diagonal run from the left side. Sporting Kansas City's Aurélien Collin came in to defend, but succeeded only in deflecting the ball off Strootman's left foot and inside Raúl Fernández's right post.
Strootman, who only joined Roma earlier this month from Dutch side PSV Eindhoven, became the first Dutch player to score for either side in an All-Star Game.
Roma nearly doubled their lead in the sixth minute when Florenzi tapped in Tallo's saved shot, only to have Tallo called offside.
But the next time Florenzi put the ball in the net, it counted.
As before, this one came early in a half. With MLS manager Peter Vermes making mass substitutions at the break, Roma capitalized on the situation in the 47th minute.
The visitors weren't done yet – and this time, American star Michael Bradley pulled the strings for Roma.
In the 68th minute, "The General" collected a loose ball in traffic at the top of the area and threaded a no-look pass to Strootman between two defenders. With Rimando isolated on a 2-on-1, all that remained was for Strootman to feed Tallo, who spent the latter part of Roma's last season on loan to Serie B side AS Bari for the easy putaway and a 3-0 scoreline.
The All-Stars, showing the effects of having just one day to practice together, struggled to connect in the attacking third for much of the night and lost Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi to quad tightness just 24 minutes in.
MLS put just three shots on goal before Gonzalez's late tally, and none of them forced keepers Morgan De Sanctis or Bogdon Lobont to make a strenuous save.
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Kevin Strootman||Roma will be plenty happy if their new signing can keep delivering like this. Formed part of a devastating midfield, scored the first and set up the third|
|2||Alessandro Florenzi||The Volkswagen MVP was a big part of the wide play that gave the All-Stars so much trouble, and got a goal and assist of his own|
|3||Francesco Totti||If this game is any indication, the guy's still got it. His vision and technique were a class above everyone else on the pitch and he made it show|