I’m typically not the most positive person here at CdT. I prefer to be realistic, sometimes bordering on negative, but things are slowly starting to change. After a slight break away from this place to escape the negativity/deal with the real world for a bit, I’m back, with beautiful performances from Roma and the other half of my name leading this charge of positivity. The other half? The only team that I can say I love more than AS Roma. The Miami Hurricanes, my alma matter.
While Miami’s flamboyant swagger isn’t exactly Roma’s style, the love for the shirt and the brotherhood of those who have worn it is undeniably similar for both teams. Seeing Ed Reed on the sideline at a Canes game evokes that same emotion as seeing Rodrigo Taddei in the Curva Sud. Head coach Mark Richt was a National Champion as a player at Miami back in 1983 (oh yeah, Roma also won a scudetto that year), and Roma is now managed by 2001 scudetto winner Eusebio di Francesco.
2001 is a significant year for my two beloved teams, as it marks the last time either of them won a championship. This of course was back in a time where I didn’t follow either team. While Roma has since caused me the endless pain of getting close but not close enough, Miami has just shit the bed, with mediocre season after mediocre season piling up. Both teams had low expectations coming into this year. A new manager at Roma, a new QB and second year coach at Miami, I expected both teams to compete but not accomplish much in terms of results.
Alas, here we are, with the “Christmas break” quickly approaching for Serie A and the college football season winding down as well. Miami find themselves proving the doubters in the media wrong thanks to a big win over goliaths Notre Dame, while Roma did the same by demolishing Chelsea a few weeks ago. Craig Burley is eating crow almost as much as the insufferable Paul Fienbaum. Yet both teams seem to not be gaining the true respect they deserve. Miami find themselves still ranked behind Clemson, who lost to a Syracuse team that Miami has beaten. Roma have arguably been the most surprising and strongest Serie A side across all competitions to start the season, but Lazio, Napoli, and Inter are still the anti-Juve that the Italian media love to shove down our throats. Miami have clinched a trip to the ACC Championship game and Orange Bowl for the first time in forever, while Roma sit in a comfortable spot in the Champions League group table with a great chance to advance to the round of 16, something almost no one thought was possible when the group was drawn.
These accomplishments are even more impressive when you look at the injuries and turnover both teams have had to deal with. Roma lost the greatest player of all time last year, while Miami (in a comparison that isn’t even close and I’m angry at myself for even typing this out) lost QB Brad Kaaya to the NFL, a three year starter and holder of several Miami school records. Running back Mark Walton and wide receiver Ahmmon Richards were expected to carry Miami this year, but both have missed most if not all of the season due to injury (Walton is out for the season). As for the Giallorossi, it was expected that Patrik Schick would be the one to carry the offense alongside Edin Dzeko, and that Rick Karsdorp would finally solve the problem of right back. Unfortunately, Karsdorp went the way of Walton (note that both play RB in their respective sports) and Schick has played even less than Richards in a position that has the letters swapped, RW and WR.
The silver lining? The guys behind them have stepped up immensely. Stephan el Sharaawy has looked confident in his limited minutes on the right side of a front three, Alessandro Florenzi is back, healthy, and has improved his defensive reading of the game, and Aleksandr Kolarov has been so fucking good Roma could put just his left leg at RB and it would still perform better than Bruno Peres. As for Miami, Travis Homer has been reliable as a replacement for Walton at RB, and Braxton Berrios has looked like the clutch star many thought he could be, making many fans forget Richards is even hurt. On the other side of the ball, the defense and the Turnover Chain have been channeling their inner Kolarov by dominating opponents up and down the field.
Miami has exorcized its demons this season by finally knocking off bitter rivals Florida State after seven straight losses. This past weekend, they demolished a heavily fancied rival in Notre Dame who loves to use “racist” insults against Miami. Roma face similar battles this weekend, all wrapped up into one giant goat turd that is Lazio. The goats, just like Notre Dame, seem to be the flavor of the week in the media, with Ciro Immobile on absolute fire at striker (that is, when he’s wearing biancoceleste, not Azzurro. Ugh I’m still bitter...). Meanwhile, their fans have been all over the news for all the wrong reasons, with the Anne Frank stickers appearing in the Curva Sud more frequently than the ND mentions of thugs and convicts. Throw in the FSU parallel where Roma are seeking revenge for some painful losses (eliminated from last year’s Coppa Italia semi-finals by Lazio and a loss in the last Serie A fixture between the two clubs) and this is going to be a fiery fixture for sure.
All I can hope is that Saturday’s Derby della Capitale is as fiery and as much of an ass kicking as the Notre Dame-Miami game was last weekend. Rivalries are the greatest part of sport, so much, that sometimes you even have to hate on Lazio 5,000+ miles from Rome at a college football pre-game TV show.
Forza Roma. Go Canes.