Diego Perotti is no stranger to playing in front of an American crowd. In August, the Argentine midfielder featured for AS Roma during a preseason friendly against Liverpool, a match played in front of nearly 30,000 fans in St. Louis, Mo.
And while Perotti says he “had a great time” playing in The Gateway City, he’ll encounter a new opportunity in July, when Roma will return to the U.S. for the International Champions Cup. Founded in 2013, the tournament gathers a selection of top European clubs for a series of mid-summer friendlies.
On July 30, Roma will meet Juventus at Gillette Stadium for the final match of the tournament.
“It’s very emotional,” Perotti said to The Bent Musket, reflecting on the chance to play in front of Roma fans in Foxboro. “All this support, it’s always important, because every team in the world—without their fans—wouldn’t be anything.”
More than 4,000 miles from Roma’s home in northern Rome, Perotti will have a chance to greet a contingent of supporters who follow his club from afar. “It will be really nice to be near to our fans,” he said.
And though Perotti understands that not every fan at Gillette Stadium will root for Roma, he hopes his team’s presence in the Boston area will help recruit new supporters. The 89-year-old club will train at Harvard University from July 20-30 before kicking off with Juventus, one of its top rivals, at the end of the month.
“It’s one of the most important games in our season,” Perotti said of facing Juventus, who has won 33 Serie A titles, including six straight dating back to 2011. “Next season we will fight to win the league, and not let Juve win again.”
Three weeks ago, Perotti and his club fended off Juventus during a 3-1 win in Rome. The victory served as a small consolation prize during a season in which Roma finished second to Juventus in the Serie A table.
During the rematch at Gillette Stadium, Perotti’s mission will remain unchanged.
“Every game we play in, we play for three points,” Perotti said. “We want to win always, even if it’s a friendly game.”
For Perotti, this will mean contributing to the outcome in any way possible—whether that’s scoring, or setting up, a goal. If he does find the back of the net at Gillette Stadium, the same venue where Taylor Twellman scored his 101st MLS goal, Perotti said he doesn’t have a celebration planned. In fact, the 28-year-old midfielder admitted to never pre-planning a goal celebration.
“When I score, I always dedicate my goal to my wife, to my son,” Perotti said. “Every time I score, it is for them.”
For a player who cannot wait to meet—and thank—the Boston fan base, this response only seems fitting.