Francesco Totti

Roma Delivers Brilliant Show

Photo: Francesco Totti carved up MLS All-Stars for 87 minutes.

On Wednesday night in Kansas City AS Roma put MLS All-Stars to the sword in a dominant 3-1 victory at Sporting Park. The one-sided All-Star Game provided a glimpse into what Toronto FC could expect when The Wolves set upon BMO Field on August 7 for an international friendly against the Reds.

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It may be preseason, but new manager Rudi Garcia has lofty expectations.

“The team played very well and I’m really happy,” Garcia told the press following Wednesday’s triumph. "There is more work to do because we’ve not been able to keep a clean sheet."

Two years ago the French manager led an unlikely Lille side to the Ligue 1 title in his home country – its first top flight championship trophy since 1954 – and he hopes to do the same in Italy for Roma, which has been starved of the Serie A crown since 2001.

The midfield led by newly acquired Dutchman Kevin Strootman came in for particular praise. The 23-year old got behind the All-Stars’ defence inside the opening four minutes, when punishingly quick ball movement by Roma sent Strootman through on goal to give the visitors the early lead.  

Italy international Alessandro Florenzi (match MVP) and 20-year old Ivorian Junior Tallo – who due to his nationality can’t escape the pressures of being called a young Didier Drogba – tripled the advantage by the three quarter mark of the match. A stoppage time MLS goal by LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez ruined the clean sheet for Garcia’s squad, a disappointment he will not wish to revisit in Toronto.  

Francesco Totti, the Roma captain and legend (to put it mildly), who will be the target of countless admirers and constant gaze when he lands in Toronto, played 87 minutes. From the left side of attack in Garcia’s 4-3-3 lineup, Totti carved open the All-Stars with ease on multiple occasions using an array of passes in his vast arsenal. His teammates weren’t able to convert, yet another shortcoming they’ll look to correct in Toronto.

For a team three weeks into preseason under a new manager, Roma looked fluid, with intelligent short passes breaking down any midfield resistance, and their learned movements off the ball baffled the All-Stars, particularly out wide… and in the middle, and everywhere else on the pitch.

The August 7 match at BMO Field is called a friendly. Though Wednesday night showed Totti, Strootman & co. are clearly more interested in putting on a brilliant show than making new friends.