FriendlyThread: MLS All-Stars v Roma.

Claudio Villa

This is several hours early but, well, who cares.

XI


MLS ALL STAR: Fernandez, Beltran, Gonzalez, Besler, Ashe; Johnson, Zusi, Beckerman, Davis; Di Vaio, Henry. A disp.: Rimando, Collin, Yedlin, Bernier, Magee, Donovan, McInerney, Sanvezzo, Wondolowski. All.: Vermes

ROMA (UFFICIALE): De Sanctis, Torosidis, Benatia, Castan, Balzaretti; Bradley, Strootman, Florenzi; Pjanic, Tallo, Totti. A disp.: Skorupski, Lobont, Burdisso, Jedvaj, Romagnoli, Crescenzi, Dodò, De Rossi, Marquinho, Taddei, Verre, Ricci, Caprari, Lamela. All.: Garcia

Note: I have no idea what's going on but Tallo is involved and I don't like it.

***

As mentioned a few times, we have this database of photos to use which is Legal Approved (hip hip). See above. This is why you no longer receive jpg goodness of dancing unicorns from yours truly, though I do believe mobile phone selfies are okay and that's a promise. Nevertheless, for quite some time at the top of the list was a series of photos from That Match Which Never Happened - so clearly they were all just Photoshopped or from some mythical land constructed in a cave in Indonesia on a boffo movie budget. Now that we've entered the summer, the megapixel well has begun to fill anew once again. In this database we now have a star...and no, it's not Francesco Totti. It's one Michael Sheehan Bradley.

Oh boy.

Roma wants to make America their second home. We know that. Hell, I think we're months away from James Pallotta naming Totti point forward for the Roma Celtics of Boston. And Roma has an American. His name's Michael. Michael's been getting a lot of database love of recent. A lot. He's a lovely guy and I'd happily rub coconut oil all over his bald head while we listen to Steve Winwood's Greatest Hits over a nice mango salad, but let's be honest: this Michael should be nowhere near Roma's starting eleven. He's not a star. He's a 5th/6th midfielder on a non-European side and only some really poor football from those ahead of him should net him pitch time during non-rest situations. The addition of Kevin Strootman has emphatically removed him from the vicinity of the team sheet - DDR, Kevin, Miralem Pjanic, Alessandro Florenzi, and Marquinho, should he not move to Inter, will all be ahead of him on the depth chart* - and this isn't a bad thing. There is, after all, a reason he was linked to, of all clubs, Hellas Verona this summer, and not someone else. Nor does he really fit in with Rudi's quick passing movement - the American Xavi simply can't pass. Which makes him the American anti-Xavi. Good squad member and backup, but that's all. And yet tonight for this MLS All-Star game, he's a star. Welcome to the PR push.

* - If there is anything Aurelio Andreazzoli brought to Roma beyond his tenure, it's that Marquinho can both be utterly useless and an incredible asset. Someone who can extract the latter with consistency could push him into a starting role as well. He's not without his qualities - with Simone retired, he's undoubtedly Roma's best mover without the ball and given Rudi's love of OTB movement, they could form a happy pair.

This is how I once described Michael. It remains true. It will likely always remain true.

"I'd keep Bradley too. I've devised the perfect way to describe him:

He's like a child and you're the mother. There's a lot of good in him, but he's just so (tactically, positionally, mentally) frustrating. Obviously that's a big deal, but there's good there, and he means well. So you can't really be mad. It's just a lot of, "MICHAEL SHEEHAN BRADLEY. GET OVER THERE." You know, a lot of calling him by his middle name.

So he knows he's in trouble but you still love him."

We love you, Michael. Now go take a seat.

For the rest, this will likely be our first chance to see, at some point, the Roma starting XI. So long as he's healthy, Mattia Destro will likely win out the starting spot at striker - see: Rudi's love of OTB movement - but if Pablo stays, well he'll be there too. Otherwise, it should look something like this:

De Sanctis; Maicon, Benatia, Castan, Balzaretti; Pjanic, DDR, Strootman; Totti, Osvaldo, Lamela.

There's nothing wrong with that side. Nothing at all. In fact, it offers a bit of that naughty word: hope.

Damn them.

Quickly becoming the thing to watch for the summer is the renaissance of one Federico Balzaretti. He was, last year, an incredible bust across the board. The man was simply horrid, and no one of sane mind and sound vision can argue otherwise. His crossing accuracy was somewhere in the red (magically), and I believe one of them was so poor it actually took the will to live from a then-chipper paralyzed orphan. And yet, he's been landing pinpoint crosses like the ghost of Max Tonetto returneth. If he can somehow reclaim the form that saw him purchased, then I'll be dancing a dance so splendid I'll supplant his wife as the prima ballerina for the Paris Opera Ballet, gender be damned. Fullbacks rarely hold so much pull over a match, a club, a season, but Good Balza could be, dare I say, the whole difference. Ditto for a Resurgant Dougie.

Or maybe they'll just go out for tapioca pudding and forget about the match whilst they compare adult diapers. Who knows.

As for the rest of it, this is a curious match. It's their "All-Star" match, but it's yet another meaningless friendly for Roma in their neverending quest to win over the US market. A friendly match which was supposedly down to Roma and Lazio. Loser of the Coppa Italia final had to play it. (Not quite sure what MLS was thinking, either. This Roma is not the caliber of club they should be looking to net - grab a club within a whiff of Champions League football at the very least.)

And thus here we are. Oh, and so too is Marco Borriello; despite being left back in Rome, Macauly Culkin-style, under the assumption he'd be sold, he's now been put on a flight to the land of fast food and fast debt. Proof that even after a very excellent summer, AS Roma cannot escape its own identity - they had to screw something up. It's simply who they are. Lovely to have you back, Roma. We missed you.

Now lock up your daughters, America.


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