KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Everything surrounding the 2013 MLS All-Star Game, which included several days of revelry before the MLS All-Stars battled AS Roma on Wednesday night at Sporting Park, drew rave reviews.
Players, including Landon Donovan, fans and even MLS Commissioner Don Garber lauded Kansas City and the soccer celebration is hosted.
Good thing too, because the game turned into a dud — at least from an MLS perspective.
Roma grabbed the lead in the fourth minute, nearly doubled it a few times in the opening 10 minutes and thoroughly outplayed the MLS All-Stars in a 3-1 rout.
Roma is only the second international club in MLS All-Star Game history to defeat the “home side,” which had been 7-2-1 in All-Star action since adopting the MLS vs. The World format in 2003.
Manchester United pounded the MLS squad in 2010 and again in 2011, while another English Premier League side, Everton, managed a draw in 2009 (and prevailed on penalty kicks).
The MLS had topped Chivas Guadalajara, Fulham, Celtic, West Ham and Chelsea twice during the other meetings with elite international clubs.
Before a record crowd of 21,175, the largest in Sporting Park history for a soccer match, Roma zapped the energy from the building practically off the opening whistle when Kevin Strootman won a footrace with Sporting Kansas City centerback Aurelien Collin to a through ball from Alessandro Florenzi in the fourth minute.
Collin got a toe on the ball with a sliding challenge in the penalty box before Strootman could strike it, but the ball still ricocheted off the Roma central midfielder’s shin and inside the right post.
Midfielder Miralem Pjanic was credited with a secondary assist on the goal.
Two minutes later, Roma nearly pulled ahead 2-0 when Junior Tallo rocked a shot at FC Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez, who prevented a goal initially with a diving save but gave up a rebound at the far post.
Florenzi ran onto the loose ball and buried a shot, but the goal was waved up by an offside penalty.
With the MLS All-Stars generating precious few chances going forward, Roma’s quick-passing, possession-oriented style continued to produce chances.
Early in the eighth minute, Florenzi got free again in the right channel, but his right-footed rocket across the face of goal whistled a few feet wide of the far post.
Florenzi found the back of the net again in the 36th minute, but again the goal was waved off because an offside call — this one on teammate Federico Balzaretti.
Florenzi’s run of bad luck wouldn’t last through halftime, which arrived with Roma still in front 1-0.
It took less than two minutes into the second half for the Giallorossi to pad its lead.
Off a cross from the left flank by Balzaretti, Floenzi, who was named the game’s MVP, ran onto the ball uncontested in the middle of the MLS All-Stars’ box and hammered Roma’s second goal inside the left post and past Nick Rimando, who took over in goal at halftime.
The lead grew to 3-0 in the 69th minute.
Balzaretti played a through ball for U.S. men’s national team star Michael Bradley atop the MLS penalty box. Bradley immediately sent the ball toward the left edge of the box for Strootman.
Strootman then centered the ball for Tallo, who outmuscled a defender and poked the ball inside the left post.
Omar Gonzalez pulled back a goal for the MLS All-Stars in the 91st minute to prevent a shutout.