Hopes are high for AS Roma supporters entering 2014-15 after a second-place finish in Serie A last year, and they will head to North America for a slate of matches in July and August as an appetizer for the upcoming season.
Rudi Garcia's first stint as Roma manager could not have gotten off to a more fruitful start, with his side winning their first 10 league matches—a league record. After finishing outside of one of the European competition spots the previous year, a guaranteed spot in the Champions League was a big step up for Roma.
Already boasting arguably Serie A's top back line, Roma has made acquisitions already in this transfer window to help shape a squad that could contend with Juventus for the title again next year.
Here's a look at their summer fixtures:
|AS Roma 2014 Summer Fixtures|
|Date||Time (ET)||Opponent||Location (USA)|
|Wed., July 23||7:30 p.m.||Liverpool||Boston, United States|
|Sat., July 26||4 p.m.||Manchester United*||Denver, United States|
|Tue., July 29||9:15 p.m.||Real Madrid*||Dallas, United States|
|Sat., Aug. 2||1 p.m.||Inter Milan*||Philadelphia, United States|
|Mon, Aug 4||7:30 p.m.||TBD*||Miami, United States|
|* denotes International Champions Cup, will play in final if they win group|
There's no doubt that a few key players will be out of the fold and competition won't be at its peak, but friendlies and preseason competitions like these give clubs like Roma a chance to try their luck against other top squads across Europe.
Quite obviously the biggest name that Roma has to get accustomed to the starting 11 is Ashley Cole.
The 33-year-old left-back signed with Roma after leaving Chelsea over the offseason in a deal that could span as long as three years. The move gives the Serie A runners-up yet another experienced back necessary to contend in the top Italian league, and his decade-plus of top-level football will pay dividends.
He's all-in for the new move, according to his Twitter account:
Of course, the move for Cole is the second time in as many seasons that the Roma brass has moved for an experienced, out-of-favor full-back that few clubs are jumping at. Last year, it was Maicon—a move that was as crucial as any in Roma's second-place finish.
James Horncastle of BT Sport sees Roma going two-for-two with successful signings:
Seydou Keita also joined Cole in heading to Roma, as the 34-year-old defensive midfielder came on a free transfer and should provide depth.
Defense is undoubtedly the top priority in the Italian league, but there's no doubt that Roma are also targeting capable attackers to help give them a scoring boost.
Samuel Eto'o could be on that list, as Daily Mail's Simon Jones reported the Cameroon striker held talks with Roma.
But even if a deal is done to reunite him with former Chelsea teammate Cole, there's no telling if he will join the side for their North American tour.
Whether Roma end up signing another notable player before the tour or not, there is no shortage of standout players on the squad to keep an eye on. Gervinho and Miralem Pjanic should provide enough fireworks for the Serie A side to compete with the elite European giants they'll face in the United States.
After allowing the least amount of goals in Serie A last year, Roma enter the 2014-15 campaign with a legitimate shot at toppling Juventus' reign over the league. But before that, they will look to take care of business in their summer tour.
Note: Visit AS Roma's official site for more information on their summer tour.