If you're lucky enough to live in a major metropolitan area, you may have had the occasion to visit a Roma club. And if you're lucky enough to live in or around Philadelphia, in addition to watching Bryce Harper hit bombs over the ridiculously short right field fences at Citizen's Bank Park (yes, I'm bitter he didn't sign with the Cubs), you're fortunate enough to reside near one of the biggest and most active Roma clubs of them all: Roma Club Philadelphia.
Founded in 2014 and partnered with the Gran Caffé L’Aquila on match days, Roma Club Philadelphia is the city's only officially Unione Tifosi Romanisti licensed fan club and owners of perhaps the dopest Roma Club t-shirts you'll ever see.
And in order to broaden our season review scopes, we reached out to Gigio Longo, Roma Club Philadelphia's VP, to get a sense for how fans in America's most historic city felt about the recently completed season. And in a genius twist, Gigio actually then sent our questions to various RCP members to get an even better picture of how Philly felt about Paulo Fonseca's first year at the helm.
1. Before we discuss the season, tell us a bit about how your club managed to stay in contact and what your matchday routines were during the pandemic.
Hey Bren, during the pandemic I would check in with some of our members through text and social media, make sure everyone was doing OK. On match-day, occasionally we would have mini meet ups of 2-3 people, but we’re looking forward to getting together for a proper meetup in the fall. One interesting phenomena for us during the pandemic was communicating and having new members sign up, not just from the Philly area but from all across North America. We actually had a member join from Houston who came and visited us during a cross country drive with his family to Niagara falls. We just appointed him to be our Roma Club Philly Ambassador in Houston to report to us on all local Friedkin news. The rest of the questions besides the final I’m letting members answer as part of keeping up a dialogue during this time. (Gigio Longo: V.P., member since 2015)
2. Roma chased several managers last summer before settling on Paulo Fonseca. What did you make of his first season in charge? Is he the right man going forward?
My answer is no. Because we never had continuity, Florenzi did not deserve to be treated like he was (we really could have used him vs. Sevilla!), and because he insisted with building from the back, which was the reason for allowing a number of goals. (Massimo Musumeci: President, Founding Member 2014)
3. Who was Roma's MVP for 2019-2020?
I can’t really think of anyone besides Smalling. I feel like he really held things together for us this season. It’s hard to put into words, but it felt like we had a veteran, seasoned presence in the back and you had confidence that when he was playing there weren’t going to be the mental errors that cost us in the past. (Matthew V.: member since 2014)
4. Who was the club’s best signing this season?
Veretout, He’s a little Nainggolan in my opinion. A lot of running, heart, good shot from long range and decent skills. (Peter C.: member since 2017)
5. Which young player are you most excited about?
Well for Zaniolo - of course- our only real “star” he has size, speed and skill. Most encouraging was the speed of his recovery. He seems to (1) know he can be great and (2) focused on putting in the work to get there. (Ray Dorizio: Consigliere, member since 2015)
6. Fast forward a year from now, what are we saying about Roma? Was Roma: Year One more successful than Roma: Year Zero?
Roma year one is more successful with our young Italian players. Pellegrini, Mancini, Cristante, Zaniolo and Spinazzola have led our team to some trophies...finalmente (Thomas Headman: Consiglieri - member since 2015)
7. Finally, are there any big plans or initiatives for your club this summer, or maybe even just a message you’d like to give to prospective members?
We had a great initiative during the dark days of COVID where we sold social masks and proceeds went to the “ONE FAIR WAGE EMERGENCY FUND”, We’ll also have a new shirt for club members coming out in September. As for a message, I think this year is going to be a great year for ROMA, the Palotta drama is over, we have a clean slate with emerging youth, if the front office adds a couple key pieces Roma is looking at their first pieces of hardware (besides a bonzai tree) since 2008! I’m hoping to see all of our members and Serie A friends very soon. FORZA ROMA! (Gigio Longo: V.P., member since 2015)
Huge thank you to Gigio, Massimo, Matthew, Peter and Thomas for their time. If you're in Philadelphia during a matchday, look them up. Hell, even if you're just in the city, stop by the Gran Caffé L’Aquila.