AS Roma defeated the MLS All-Star team Wednesday night 3-1 in the MLS All-Star game at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.
The MLS team included three players from Sporting Kansas City, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler and Graham Zusi. Their opponent from Italy included United States National Team center midfielder Michael Bradley who received high praise during from stadium fans on his announcement onto the field.
Roma’s win started with a goal from midfielder Kevin Stootman, just four minutes into the game. The All-stars brought a showing to the scoreboard in the 91st minute of the game with a goal by Omar Gonzales, just barely avoiding a shutout.
Sporting Kansas City Coach Peter Vermes says coming together as a team can be difficult.
“It’s hard to bring a group of guys together with one training,” says Vermes.
Vermes also noted that Roma is a top European team in the midst of pre-season training. Besler says as a defender Roma was a tough opponent.
“These guys are world class players and you saw some of the passes they were making,” says Besler. “They made it difficult for us to defend.”
Wednesday game was the 18th MLS All-Star game, and the first in Kansas City. Soccer’s popularity has grown in the city and the country over the last decade. Kansas City has attracted national media attention for its soccer turnaround story, which is largely credited to major investments and a savvy media strategy.
“This city has grown as one of the best soccer cities in the states,” says Aurelien Collin, MLS All-star and Sporting KC defender.
And he’s not the only one who thinks so. Soccer fans recently sold out Sporting Park 27 consecutive times, and Sporting merchandise sales are third in the MLS.
And, there is no sign of that slowing down. Owner Robb Heineman says plans on bringing home consistent championships and building the youth soccer programs in Kansas City.
Momentum is also strong behind the Major League Soccer organization as a whole. MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced Wednesday that they would add four new teams by 2020.
Though a disappointing loss for All-Star fans, the event was a success for Kansas City.
All-star events were packed at various venues across the city this week, and the match brought 21,175 fans to Sporting Park- the largest in history.
Ahead of reports, it looks like the economic impact won’t be too bad.