Five things Roma learned from the All Star game

Posted by Julian De Martinis

That was quick: within four minutes of the start of either half, Roma fired in a goal en route to a rather comprehensive 3-1 victory over the MLS All Stars in Kansas City on Wednesday night. Truth be told, it's hard to judge how well the team is coming together based upon opposition that had never played a match together before; nevertheless, signs of progress were evident in the way that the team moved about the pitch and in the roles filled by each player. Junior Tallo notched the side's third to finish off a fantastic team move before Omar Gonzalez scored a consolation goal from a set-piece at the very end of a match that was rather entertaining.

- All-Star defeat takes no shine off MLS
- Roma's class a boost to U.S. soccer

What can Rudi Garcia take from the match, if anything?

- Kevin Strootman is a presence on the field. Strootman took a starting role in the midfield along with Alessandro Florenzi and Michael Bradley; Miralem Pjanic played further forward with a license to drop deep and create, usually allowing Florenzi to rush ahead in his place. The four players interlocked very well, each with a more-or-less designated title but exchanging on a need-be basis.

Pjanic was the creative passer; Florenzi, the tactical runner; Bradley the destroyer; and Strootman as the box-to-box midfielder. The latter was of particular interest, being the only new member of the midfield to start, and did a very good job in both retaining possession and setting up plays. His athletic ability and mentality, evident on the night, means he's nearly certain to be a starter in the Serie A season. The lingering question: how to fit Daniele De Rossi into the equation? One suspects Bradley may find himself in a bench position more often than not.- Francesco Totti is timeless. There's really nothing left to say about Totti except that many may have discovered him for the first time on Wednesday night. Americans who don't watch Serie A but tuned into the match saw a 36-year-old wizard steal the limelight with simply sublime passing, often taking two or three players out of the picture with just one flick. After the match, Roma president James Pallotta hinted a renewal of Totti's expiring contract was merely a formality. He made Thierry Henry and Marco Di Vaio seem invisible with his class on display and continues to be the engine that powers this Roma side. Long may he run.- Rudi Garcia's team is taking shape. Some of the acquisitions this season have seemed questionable - Morgan De Sanctis is the answer to the goalie woes? Shouldn't Federico Balzaretti be replaced? - but both players put in solid shifts. The former Napoli keeper commanded his area, rushed out for crosses and made a few solid saves, while the left-back's cross for Florenzi's goal proved he's not quite finished yet. Neither are long-term answers - yet for this season, they don't have to be.- Junior Tallo may yet have a role at the club. With Mattia Destro and Erik Lamela injured in Kansas City, and Pablo Osvaldo the continued subject of transfer speculation, it was the 20-year-old Primavera player who got the nod up front. At times he looked exactly like a 20-year-old Primavera player; at others, he seemed a talented youngster who needs a season or two of consistent starts in Serie A to really flourish. His current path at Roma may be blocked by the aforementioned names (not to mention Marco Borriello, who remains at the side); a co-ownership move could greatly benefit Tallo.- Medhi Benatia could ease Marquinhos woes. Although the center-back was at fault for the lone goal conceded in the match, failing to match Gonzalez in the air, he otherwise led the backline and looked to have formed a solid pairing with Leandro Castan. He may not have the sheer talent of the now departed Brazilian - he surely doesn't even have the potential Marquinhos had. Yet he's older, more experienced, Serie A-ready, and surely seems to be a great addition to the backline.


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