CHICAGO, IL - JULY 22: Marco Cassetti #77 of A.C. Roma and Michael Bradley #4 enter the pitch before a match against Zaglebie Lubin in a international friendly match on July 22, 2012 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
The third and final leg of Roma's 2012 U.S. Tour kicks off tonite at New York's Red Bull Arena against the El Salvador National Team. I can't lie, there isn't a whole lot I can write about the El Salvador National Team-they've qualified for two World Cups, 1970 and 1982, the former marking the first time a Central American nation qualified for the big show, their all-time leading scorer, Raul Diaz Arce, spent the bulk of his time in the early years of MLS...so that should give you some indication of what we're up against tonight.
The quality of tonight's appoint notwithstanding, this tour has to be deemed a success. The matches in Wrigley Field and Fenway Park drew nearly 60,000 people, new kits were unveiled to largely positive reviews, and new comers Panagiotis Tachtsidis and Michael Bradley found the back of the net in successive matches. Miralem Pjanic and Jose Angel even got to unleash their inner wankstas. Whatever the final financial haul might be, it's safe to say, it won't be long before Roma tour the New World again.
On the field, it's always hard to glean much insight from friendlies, particularly on a tour where two-thirds of the matches weren't exactly played on regulation pitches. So, with less than a month until the August 26th opening day tilt against Catania, the major story lines figure to be what role Francesco Totti will assume, which, if any, new fullbacks will be purchased and how Zeman will manage the midfield rotation.
While tonight's match won't solve any of those riddles, the excitement for Zemlandia 2.0 is mounting as the season creeps closer and closer. Besides, it's still Roma calcio, albeit in a slightly less stressful format.
So enjoy it, the real deal is right around the corner!