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MLS All-Stars 1-3 AS Roma: Romans conquer Kansas City in MLS showpiece

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MLS Preview: Sporting Kansas City - New York Red Bulls
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MLS Preview: Sporting Kansas City - New York Red Bulls

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Francesco Totti didn't like Major League Soccer's marketing. The league had been promoting its clash with the Italy veteran's beloved AS Roma using a poster that depicted the iconic Flavian Amphitheater in Rome with the slogan "Rome wasn't built in a day, but it can fall in 90 minutes."

For Totti, born in the shadow of the city's 900-year-old Aurelian Walls, who joined the club as a child in 1989 and is by far its most beloved and iconic representative, this was too much. Coming across the poster in the visitors' locker room, the Giallarossi captain ripped the advertisement from the wall.

It was this affront, perhaps, that propelled this year's illustrious guest to a comfortable win. AS Roma scored early in both halves and added another in the mid second-half before MLS grabbed a late consolation goal. The visitors became the third foreign team to finish triumphant in the All-Star game with the 3-1 win, joining English clubs Everton (2009) and Manchester United (2010 and 2011).

Parity lasted until just the fourth minute. Via a touch off Alessandro Florenzi, Miralem Pjanic picked out Kevin Strootman, Roma's big-money summer signing, through the middle, and the Dutchman outpaced the back line to finish confidently past FC Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez.

MLS was spared further embarrassment twice in the following few minutes. Alessandro Florenzi was the danger man both times working from the right wing, having a goal called back for offside and seeing a shot touched wide by Fernandez after receiving a good pass from Totti.

Totti, already legendary as a player of languid luxury, was at his most Totti-like. The most beloved son of the Eternal City (at 37, and in his 25th year with the club, seemingly an eternal citizen), the nature of the event freed him from needing to maintain even the the illusion of industry, choosing instead to let his wonderful footballing brain do the work. Slipping in and out, he graced the Sporting Park pitch with his wonderful vision and distribution, his talents displayed in usual effortless fashion.

The All-Stars went close but were left disappointed in the 16th through their own Italian star, as Montreal Impact striker Marco Di Vaio, slipped in by Sporting Kansas City's Graham Zusi, could only manage a weak and wayward effort across the front of the goal from a one-on-one situation with a defender.

The league side took another hit on 24 minutes, when Zusi, feeling something in his quadriceps, went straight to the locker room, replaced by Vancouver Whitecaps forward Camilo Sanvezzo.

Roma got the second half off to a similarly good start. Florenzi, who along with Totti was the most dangerous player in the opening half, latched onto a cross from Federico Balzaretti on the left and stuck the easy finish past freshly substituted Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

And a third came in the 68th minute, when Junior Tallo, out-muscling the MLS defense, put his foot on a short cutback cross played by Pablo Osvaldo to seal a comfortable victory for the Totti-inspired Giallarossi.

When the veteran was subbed off in the 87th minute, the local fans, recognizing a special caliber of player, cheered him off with the same level of respect as any non-local MLSer.

MLS finally pulled one back in second-half stoppage time. LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez rose high to head home Camilo's free kick from the left wing, but the night belonged to Totti and Roma.

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