Michael Bradley and AS Roma took Fenway Park by storm on Wednesday night in Boston, defeating Liverpool FC 2-1 in a preseason match. Bradley got on the scoresheet along with Alessandro Florenzi for the winners, while Charlie Adam provided the sole consolation goal for the Reds.
The first half was actually dominated by Liverpool. JonJo Shelvey nearly scored in the second minute with an audacious chip from near the center circle before Roma notched their only chances of the first half. Nicolas Lopez wasted a glorious headed chance, and Liverpool goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi made a great save on Paniagotis Tachtsidis.
After that, Joe Cole and JonJo Shelvey took over the match, taking two or three chances each but finding themselves unable to convert. Roma appeared to dig in and try to get to halftime without conceding, and did so successfully.
"I think that as far as the performance is concerned, we played better in the first half," said Roma coach Zdenek Zeman through a translator. "We were more disciplined on the pitch. But of course it's important to score goals to win games."
The second half was a different matter. Bradley drew first blood for Roma in the 63rd minute after Erik Lamela played him in with an excellent through ball. The American midfielder drilled a low shot straight at the far post, and the ball pinged off the woodwork and in.
"I think he played a good game," said Zeman of Bradley. "He is a player who works hard. He did well, and he kept his tempo very high."
Florenzi doubled the advantage in the 69th minute, cleaning up a rebound from Lamela after some incredibly slick interplay between the Roma attack. Liverpool appeared to wake up a bit after conceding the second goal, and in the 80th minute Charlie Adam took a good lateral pass from Daniel Pacheco and buried it viciously in the bottom far post corner.
The performance of Michael Bradley, specifically, was very encouraging for USA fans. He turned in a typical all-action showing, going the full 90 minutes and imposing his will on the game with incisive passing and an innate ability to set the tempo. He also nearly had an assist in the 57th minute when he released Aleandro Rosi with a beautiful through ball, but Rosi skied the chance.
"Seeing [Bradley] on the pitch and in training I can say that he is a great person," said Florenzi of Bradley, through a translator. "On the pitch he is a fighter. He gives his best effort, and I also think that he is very skilled."
Though it was an exhibition game, there was some history behind it; Liverpool and AS Roma met in the 1984 European Cup final, with the Reds winning on penalties after the match finished 1-1 in regulation. It was fitting, then, that such a rematch occurred at the storied and ancient Fenway Park, where so many important American sports moments have happened.
"It was incredible," Liverpool head coach Brendan Rogers said. "And I'd like to go on record to give a big thank you to the people of Boston. It's been absolutely magnificent. The hospitality that we've received here, and to climax it with playing at an incredible stadium; I said to the players before the game that when you're 50 years old, you'll be able to tell your grandkids and what not that you played actual football at Fenway Park . And that's something that will stay with them."