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Kansas City, Kan. • A special few days ended with a less-than-special result for the MLS All-Stars.
The MLS All-Stars suffered a disappointing 3-1 defeat to AS Roma in their annual All-Star Game on a humid night at Sporting Park on Wednesday night, with an early goal from midfielder Kevin Strootman setting the tone for what was a dominant showing by the Italian club.
Alessandro Florenzi and Junior Tallo added goals in the second half to ensure the Romans' victory while U.S. men's national team midfielder Michael Bradley pitched in with a solid 90-minute performance against several of his international teammates.
Substitute centerback Omar Gonzalez scored a late consolation goal for the MLS All-Stars seconds before the final whistle, giving the 21,175 fans in attendance a rare moment to cheer.
"Very organized in both aspects of the game," said MLS All-Stars head coach Peter Vermes of Roma. "In their defending, very organized, but when they go forward, very balanced and disciplined. Excellent movement off the ball. … They were able to break pressure really well, switching the point of attack.
"In all facets of the game, they were sterling until the end."
Fielding a starting lineup that included Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman and New York Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry, the MLS All-Stars got off to a nightmare start when Strootman scored in the fourth minute after being played in on goal by Florenzi.
Roma then doubled their lead against an MLS All-Stars unit that clearly and understandably lacked cohesion in the 47th minute. Florenzi beat substitute goalkeeper Nick Rimando with a shot from about 12 yards out after a quality low cross from the left from Federico Balzaretti.
Tallo then added Roma's third in the 68th minute with a close-range finish before Gonzalez headed home a free kick from Vancouver Whitecaps attacker Camilo in stoppage time.
"It's a long time I didn't see Roma playing like this," said Henry. "[Miralem] Pjanic is amazing, Bradley, too, Strootman. I'm not going to name everybody, but the way they were passing the ball and the tactics they had on the field, it was actually amazing. It was nice to see."
Aside from Gonzalez's goal, the MLS All-Stars rarely challenged Roma's air-tight defense. Landon Donovan had an opportunity two minutes prior to Tallo's tally, but Roma's reserve goalkeeper, Tin Jedvaj, saved the L.A. Galaxy attacker's shot.
"They are a very organized team," said Gonzalez. "They are very, very focused. They put together guys on the field who are fighting for their jobs because their season is about to start, so they want to show well.
"Us, we're just coming together for this one game and trying to have as much fun as possible, trying to win. But ultimately, it didn't happen tonight."
O Italian powerhouse AS Roma scores four minutes into the game and leads 3-0 until L.A. Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez scores in 2nd-half stoppage time.
• The MLS All-Stars had been 7-2-1 against international opponents before Wednesday, with their only losses coming against Manchester United.
ONLINE • MLS' All-Stars were dominated Thursday, but weren't too downcast about the loss. > sltrib.com/sports
Roma 3, MLS All-Stars 1
Roma 1 2 3
MLS 0 1 1
First half » 1, Roma, Strootman 1 (Florenzi, Pjanic), 4th minute.
Second half » 2, Roma, Florenzi 1 (Balzaretti), 47th. 3, Roma, Tallo 1 (Strootman, Bradley), 68th. 4, MLS, Gonzalez 1 (Camilo), 90th+.
Goalies » Roma, Morgan De Sanctis MLS, Raul Fernandez.
Yellow Cards • Pjanic, Roma, 54th Marquinho, Roma, 85th.
Referee • Hilario Grajeda. Assistant RefereesPaul Scott. Bill Dittmar. 4th OfficialDrew Fischer.
Attendance » 21,175 (18,500)
Roma • Morgan De Sanctis (Bogdan Lobont, 63rd), Vasilis Torosidis, Leandro Castan, Federico Balzaretti, Mehdi Benatia, Alessandro Florenzi (Marquinho, 63rd), Michael Bradley, Miralem Pjanic (Daniele De Rossi, 63rd), Kevin Strootman, Gadji Tallo (Gianluca Caprari, 80th), Francesco Totti (Federico Ricci, 86th).
MLS • Raul Fernandez (Nick Rimando, 46th), Matt Besler (Omar Gonzalez, 46th), Aurelien Collin, Corey Ashe (DeAndre Yedlin, 66th), Tony Beltran, Brad Davis (Mike Magee, 46th), Will Johnson (Chris Wondolowski, 46th), Kyle Beckerman (Patrice Bernier, 46th), Marco Di Vaio (Landon Donovan, 46th), Thierry Henry (Jack McInerney, 57th), Graham Zusi (Camilo, 24th).
MLS to add four teams by 2020 season
Major League Soccer isn't content to rest once its latest franchise joins the fold in 2015.
Instead, the league plans to expand to 24 teams by the 2020 season.
Commissioner Don Garber announced MLS' plan to add four more clubs during halftime of its annual All-Star game Wednesday night. The location of the teams has yet to be decided, but Garber said the league has already had discussions with potential owners.
The news came one day after Hunt Sports Group announced it was selling the Columbus Crew to investor Anthony Precourt, and with New York City FC beginning play in two years.
The Associated Press