JOHN KRETLOW - Thursday, July 26, 2012
Roma vs Liverpool
Friendly - Wednesday July 25, 2012
Michael Bradley found the back of the net as Roma beat Liverpool in an international club freindly at historic Fenway Park in Boston.
It was the young American's first goal for his new team, as he arrived earlier this summer to the Italian side after spending a strong season with Serie A's Chievo Verona.
Not only was the night special because of Bradley's goal, but the spectacle of a game being played at one of America's oldest and most famous ballparks was a special in itself.
The action started early as the Reds nearly gifted Roma an early goal. Jay Spearing gave the ball away in their own area to Panagiotis Tachtsidis, but the Greek's shot was impressively saved by Liverpool ‘keeper Peter Gulacsi.
Both teams struggled in the beginning to find their rhythm, but the Serie A team seemed to have a better grip on the game early.
As the game settled though, Liverpool got their first chance when Jonjo Shelvey snuck into the area and took a strong shot, forcing a diving save from Roma's ‘keeper Bogdan Lobont.
In the 28th minute, Francesco Totti took a free kick from about 25 yards out and had it knocked down by Raheem Sterling with his hand. This would give the Liverpool player a yellow card, and resulted in another free kick from the same spot roughly, but the second shot resulted in no danger for the Reds.
Joe Cole was close to getting the pro Liverpool stadium onto their feet as he received a long pass from Alberto Auilani and flicked a ball over Roma ‘keeper Lobant, who was off his line, and hit the woodwork in the 32nd minute of the game.
The Reds continued their pressure in the tail end of the half and nearly opened the scoring in the 39th minute as Shelvey received the ball in the area and made some nifty dribbles to find space and make a low shot that was saved by Lobant.
The first half ended with both teams struggling to find a rhythm. Roma was the better of the two teams for most of the half, but Liverpool gained confidence and nearly found the back of the net on many occasions in the final 10 minutes of the half.
The beginning of the second half saw Roma get the first opportunity on goal, as Tachtsidis' left footed shot forced newly introduced Brad Jones to make a big save to his right for the Reds.
Liverpool would get their first chance of the second half just moments later though, as Shelvey's free kick rocket went about a yard wide from goal.
In the 56th minute Bradley laid a brilliant through ball to Aleandro Rosi, whose shot from 10 yards out went over the bar.
The opening goal finally came in the 63rd minute as Bradley received a through ball from Erik Lavela in the corner of the box, made a positive first touch towards goal, and slid the ball into the corner of the net for Roma. It was Bradley's first goal for his new team, and brought the crowd to its feet.
Roma would double their lead in the 69th minute, as clever play inside the box resulted in Lavela getting a clear shot on goal. Jones made the save for Liverpool, but the resulting rebound found Alessandro Florenzi who blasted home for the Italian side.
"Scoring always gives you great excitement," said the young Rome native. "It's always very nice. But doing it tonight in front of this crowd, whom I'd like to thank on behalf of all the team. It was very special to me."
Liverpool fans would not go home empty handed though, as the Reds finally scored in the 79th minute of the game. Charlie Adam received a pass from Daniel Pacheco just 10 yards from goal and knocked the ball passed Roma's ‘goalie to the low far corner.
"It was a real good goal. We moved the ball from one side of the pitch to the other," exclaimed Liverpool coach Brendan Rogers after the game.
"We took that chance well. We had many other good chances, but we just couldn't finish them," continued Rodgers.
Just minutes later Roma nearly lengthened their lead, as Lamela got a shot off from a difficult angle and hit the inside of the post. The Argentine native was extremely active for the Italian side in the second half.
The final whistle blew with the Italian outfit getting the victory in Boston.
Sterling was booked for Liverpool, while Gabriel Heinze saw yellow for Roma.
The Italian side had a 20 to 16 shot lead, while also notching an advantage in corner kicks.
Bradley's debut was highlighted by his second half goal. But, the young American also made plenty of positive touches throughout the game and could very well get more playing time in Roma's offseason freindlies.
"I think he played a good game," said Roma coach Zdenek Zeman. "He is a player who works hard and he keeps his tempo very high."
Bradley also received praise from his new teammates.
"I have already seen him play well last season with Chievo Verona," mentioned Roma's second goal scorer Florenzi. "But, now to see him in training I can see that he is a great person. He has a very correct and proper conduct off the pitch, and on the pitch he is a fighter. He puts his best effort and he is very skilled."
Although both teams seemed pleased with the game, the topic of night in particular was the venue itself.
"I said to the players before the game, when you're 50 you'll be able to tell your grandkids that you played football in Fenway Park," said Rodgers after the game.
Before trekking back to Europe, Roma has one more friendly against El Salvador's national team at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey on July 27th.
Liverpool will play Premier League rival Tottenham Hotspur on July 28th in Baltimore.