In easily the most unique all-star game in all of sports, A.S. Roma defeated the MLS All Stars, 3-1, at Sporting Park in Kansas City on Wednesday night.
The Serie A side took advantage of some shoddy MLS defending, getting goals from Kevin Strootman and Alesandro Florenzi in the opening moments of each half, and the two-goal deficit would prove to be too much for an all-star side that clearly lacked chemistry.
Florenzi was awarded with the MVP award, while Francesco Totti was on a completely different level despite not finding the back of the net:
And Totti. Just Totti. A man who can with a single pass make you feel privileged just to exist in the same universe. #mlsallstar— Paolo Bandini (@Paolo_Bandini) August 1, 2013
Things started off just about as bad as can possibly be imagined for the home side.
With the MLS playing an impossibly high back line, veteran playmaker Totti—a man who has been linked to the MLS this summer—did Francesco Totti things, delivering a beautiful ball into Strootman behind the defense.
As the Dutch international moved in on goal, Aurelien Collin's attempted recovery tackle deflected off Strootman into the net:
A calamitous mistake in the fourth minute in front of his crowd. Eesh. Collin would do well to forget about this night as soon as possible.
In the next five minutes, Roma created two more wonderful chance but failed to capitalize when their finishes went awry.
From there, the rest of the first half was a lot of attacking from Roma and inability to possess the ball from the MLS. ESPN's Paul Carr summed it up with this stat:
Attacking-third passing in first half: Roma 61-84 (73%), MLS 31-60 (52%). #MLSAllStar— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) August 1, 2013
The start of the second half was a near replay of the first, as Florenzi made an easy run behind the seemingly unaware MLS defense, where Federico Balzaretti found him with a beautiful low cross. From there, it was a simple finish past Nick Rimando:
Little did Roma know, however, their fastest second-half goal in all-star game history was actually a giveaway of its strategy, as Yahoo! Sports' Dirty Tackle noted:
Score within the first 4 minutes of the start of each half so you can coast through the rest. Roma should stick with this strategy.— dirtytackle (@BrooksDT) August 1, 2013
As the clock ticked on, the MLS side began to look more comfortable together, playing with a better sense of urgency. Fueled by a Landon Donovan second-half substitution spark, the blue shirts were able to create several promising chances and more possession in its own half, but they weren't able to break through when it mattered.
In the 68th minute, Junior Tallo made it 3-0 after some world-class passing from the Italian side:
Finally, in the 91st minute, the MLS squad broke through. Camilo Sanvezzo of the Vancouver Whitecaps sent it a beautiful curling free kick, where the Los Angeles Galaxy's Omar Gonzalez headed it home.
The MLS stars were able to best EPL side Chelsea last year in a 3-2 thriller, but Roma proved to have too much talent and too much chemistry in the comprehensive victory.