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Getting to know AS Roma, the MLS All-Star opponent

07/28/2013 12:13 PM

07/28/2013 12:13 PM

You’ve got questions about AS Roma, the opponent for the MLS All-Stars? We’ve got answers.

What should I know about AS Roma?

That’s a great place to start. The club, also known as the “Giallorossi” (The Yellow-Reds, after their colors) or the “Lupi” (The Wolves), was founded in 1927. They hail from Rome, also home to the Vatican and The Pope.

They’ve spent every season except one back in the 1950s in Italy’s top-flight, Serie A, winning the championship three times. Feel free to impress your friends by calling the championship the “scudetto,” which is Italian for “little shield.”

Roma’s home games are played in the spectacular Stadio Olimpico — a stadium they share with inner-city rivals Lazio.

And, before you ask, the “AS” stands for Associazione Sportiva. Again, impress your friends with that.

Is Roma any good?

Roma have consistently finished near the top of the table, but haven’t won the scudetto since 2000-01.

Last season, they finished sixth and lost 1-0 to inner-city rivals Lazio in the Coppa Italia final.

Why is Roma coming to America?

This is the second year in a row that Roma have visited North America for preseason training and matches, perhaps because the club’s president is American James J. Pallotta. (He’s also on the executive board of the NBA’s Boston Celtics.)

In addition to the All-Star game, the Giallorossi will take on Toronto FC in Toronto and Chelsea in Washington, D.C.

But enough of reciting facts I found on Wikipedia. Let’s dig deeper. What else you got?

Do they play like a typical Italian side?

I assume by “typical” you mean slow and defensive? Far from it. Roma were amongst the league leaders in goals scored (71) last season

and

in goals allowed (56). They’ve made moves this off-season to address a poor defense, but they won’t have a lot of 0-0 games.

Will I recognize any of these players?

If you are familiar with a little tournament called the World Cup, you might spot a familiar name or two.

Let’s start with club legend Francesco Totti. The exuberant 36-year-old striker is flirting with retirement, but is still can remind people he’s one of the finest strikers in all of European football (215 goals during his 20 years in yellow and red. During the 2006 World Cup he was the co-leader in assists and is often referred to by either “Il Re di Roma” (”The King of Rome”) or “Er Pupone” (”The Big Baby”). Depends on who’s addressing him I guess. You have to admit, it’s worth reading this just to know the Italian phrase for Big Baby.

The other big name here is Daniele De Rossi, the do-everything midfielder for the Italian national team. Many U.S. fans will remember him for his vicious red-card worthy elbow against Brian McBride in the 2006 World Cup.

Though, with rumors are swirling that De Rossi might be on his way to Chelsea this summer, he might not be part of the traveling team.

Anyone else?

Brazilian right back Maicon, formerly of Inter Milan and Manchester City, has joined the “Lupi” this summer. Even though he’s fallen off the Italian national team’s radar a bit, Federico Balzaretti is still a flashy outside back.

Oh, they’ve got American midfielder Michael Bradley.

You didn’t lead with the fact that one of the best American players will be in KC?

I figured you might have seen his bald pate on the cover of this section. Or read the story about him on Page xx.

Who else is worth watching?

Speedy Argentine forward Erik Lamela is one worth watching — and should be no stranger to soccer fans who favor snapping up the video-game version of him in FIFA 13 or Football Manager. (He’s an absolute beast in both.)

Wait, did you research this article by playing video games?

I’m a child of the ‘80s. Of course I played copious amounts of video-game soccer to prepare for this article.

Who else … is fun to play with in video-game world, I need FIFA 13 tips?

Creative midfielder Alessandro Florenzi is the heir apparent to Totti and Italian Mattia Destro — besides being the bearer of All-Star caliber name — is a very exciting young striker.

The team recently added former PSV Eindhoven captain and midfielder Kevin Strootman, the youngest captain in the history of the Dutch senior team.

It’s a shame the team also let go of promising young Brazilian defender Marquinhos. If only because the team already has a player named Marquinho (the two are not related, I think).

Is Roma a step down from the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea?

Pretty much any team that’s not Barcelona or Bayern Munich would be a step down from those two. They might not be the biggest “marquee” name for this event, but given the attacking style and number of young players looking to establish themselves, this could be a very wide-open and entertaining affair. Fans should get their money’s worth with this match up.

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