AS Roma's head coach praised his midfield players for their performance in a comfortable 3-1 win over the MLS All-Stars in Kansas City, Kan.KANSAS CITY, Kan. – After disappointing in Serie A the last few seasons, AS Roma is looking to rebound this year under new head coach Rudi Garcia. In what was the club's fourth game of the preseason campaign, Roma had little trouble toppling the MLS All-Stars with a 3-1 win in front of an enthusiastic and record crowd of 21,175 at Sporting Park.
Speaking about the game in the post-game press conference, Garcia said his Roma side still has plenty to improve on, but highlighted the play of his midfield players as having been particularly positive, especially given the heavy work load of the team's recent training sessions.
“I was very happy with the performance of my midfield - Kevin (Strootman) Michael (Bradley), Miralem (Pjanic) and Daniele (De Rossi), who only has six training sessions under his belt,” Garcia said in French. “I can’t forget also that we trained twice yesterday and also trained today so I knew that the players would play today with fatigue. Sometimes when you don’t have the legs for a game you have to play with your head and that’s what the players did really well today.”
Roma’s midfield was at the heart of many of its most dangerous attacking maneuvers in the game. New offseason signing Kevin Strootman scored the opening goal in the fourth minute after a late run from deep, and the Dutchman was also involved on the third goal in the 68th minute as his give-and-go play with Bradley at the top of the All-Stars’ box eventually culminated into a simple finish in the six-yard box for Ivory Coast forward Junior Tallo.
“We have a midfield that’s interchangeable. What we saw today from Kevin, Michael and Miralem is that we’re able to get forward” Garcia noted. “Michael scored in the last game and Kevin scored tonight. We need to have a complimentary midfield that’s always in movement and gets forward – that’s what really makes things difficult for opposing teams and we saw that tonight.”
Knowing that the MLS All-Stars have had success against top Europeans in the past, Bradley explained that Roma took the game very seriously and felt that the MLS All-Stars gave them a good fight.
“Didn’t they beat Chelsea last year? We all knew that and so for us there was motivation to come here, especially for me, to play guys that I’ve played with in the national team - a lot of friends,” Bradley said. “There’s motivation to come and play against these guys, knowing that they’re going to be up for the game.
“In the first 60 minutes the game had good pace. It wasn’t a typical friendly, it wasn’t a typical All-Star game. There was real pace to it and both teams tried to close each other down – that’s the kind of game we needed.”