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 eleven matches. Alessandro Florenzi and Junior Tallo added second-half tallies for Roma.
LA Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez pulled one back late, heading home a free kick by Vancouver's Camilo in second-half stoppage time.
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 Aurelien Collin came in to defend, but succeeded only in deflecting the ball off Strootman's left foot and inside Raul Fernandez'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.
Florenzi made a run down the middle, easily beating Houston fullback Corey Ashe to Federico Balzaretti's long cross from the left flank, and finished past Nick Rimando to make it 2-0,
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.
MLS All-Stars: Raul Fernandez (Nick Rimando 46); Tony Beltran, Corey Ashe (DeAndre Yedlin 66), Matt Besler (Omar Gonzalez 46), Aurelien Collin; Brad Davis (Landon Donovan 46), Kyle Beckerman (Patrice Bernier 46), Graham Zusi (Camilo 22), Will Johnson (Mike Magee 46); Marco Di Vaio (Chris Wondolowski 46) , Thierry Henry (Jack McInerney 57)
AS Roma: Morgan De Sanctis (Bodgan Lobont 63), Mehdi Benatia, Federico Balzaretti, Vasilis Torosidis, Leandro Castan, Miralem Pjanic (Daniele De Rossi 63), Michael Bradley, Alessandro Florenzi (Marquinho 63), Kevin Strootman, Francesco Totti (Federico Ricci 87), Junior Tallo (Gianluca Caprari 80)
|Shots on Goal||4||5|
ROM -- Miralem Pjanic (caution) 54
ROM -- Marquinho (caution) 85
ROM -- Kevin Strootman (Alessandro Florenzi, Miralem Pjani) 4
ROM -- Alessandro Florenzi (Federico Balzaretti) 47'
ROM -- Junior Tallo (Kevin Strootman, Michael Bradley) 68'
MLS -- Omar Gonzalez (Camilo Sanvezzo) 90+1