Italian class eclipse MLS All-Stars
21175 fans showed up for The MLS All-Star games first visit to Kansas. The game was played at Sporting Park, which opened in 2011 and is the home stadium of the current Eastern Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City. Three of the home town players were in the squad, defenders Matt Besler who was named MLS Defender Of The Year in 2012 as was playing in his second All-star game after appearing in 2011 and Aurelien Collin another two time All-star and a finalist in 2012 for Defender Of The Year. Also getting extra loud cheers was midfielder Graham Zusi who was competing in his second straight show case game. Thierry Henry of the New York Red Bulls captained the side and another stalwart of this encounter was Landon Donovan who is in his thirteenth season of MLS service.
The game featured for the first time a side from the Italian Serie A, as AS Roma were the guest team. Their star player being flamboyant captain Francesco Toti. Although Italy has produced many great players very few have ever plied their trade in the MLS. Though four have signed with the Montreal Impact this season including the latest one Alessandro Nesta who they acquired from AC Milan.
The game it’s self was controlled though out by the Italian side. Playing at a high tempo and pressing the ball from the start they quickly gained the upper hand and took the lead as early as minute 4. A through ball up the middle by Alessandro Florenzo found Kevin Strootman who had made a diagonal run, KC’s Collin came across to defend but could only deflect the ball onto Strootmans foot and into the goal. The midfielder, 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.
The visitors almost doubled their advantage 2 minutes later but the All-Stars were rescued by the flag of the Assistant Referee who denied Florenzo a goal after Junior Tallo had being caught off side in the build up.
2 minutes into the second half though Florenzo did get his goal. Again the All-Stars were caught cold as after mass substitutions at the break by coach Peter Vermes, a run down the middle saw him easily beat Houston fullback Corey Ashe to Federico Balzaretti’s long cross from the left flank, and he finished well past Real Salt Lakes Nick Rimando, who had taken over from FC Dallas goalie Raul Fernandez.
American Michael Bradley was starting to pull the strings for Roma now and he had a hand in their third goal in minute 68. He took control of a loose ball at the top of the box and threaded a no look pass through to Strootman as Rimando advanced towards him he simply slipped it to Tallo who was in support for an easiy finish.
The lack of practice time was showing for the All-Stars as they struggled to connect in the attacking area, but did manage a consolation goal 1 minute into stoppage time. LA Galaxy player Omar Gonzalez on hand to head home a free kick supplied by Vancouver’s Camilo Sanvezzo as the Seria A side became only the third oversees club to defeat the All-Stars in eleven encounters. Florenzo who was a constant menace throughout the game as well as collecting a goal and an assist was named MVP.