KANSAS CITY – MLS mavens sometimes enjoy using the All-Star game in its current format as a referendum on where the league stands, quality-wise.
It looks like this: If we gather the league’s tip-top talent, can they hang with a Premier League club or a top Scottish side or, as in this case, an above-average outfit from Italy’s tough Serie A?
Of course, there are about 40 reasons why the theory is flawed. From AS Roma’s side, start with fact that the team is just getting into the heart of its preseason training, nowhere near individual fitness and nothing that resembles a cohesive bunch in terms of understanding on the field. From the MLS side, does anyone seriously believe that one light, morning practice a day before the match can even begin to create an actual team from 11 individuals, even if they do represent a fairly fancy set of talented feet?
And there’s something else to consider: Roma is sure to have some heavy legs when the teams meet tonight at Sporting Park.
(MORE: MLS All-Star game preview)
Roma is building preseason fitness, just as other European teams are right now, whether it’s in the States, in the seclusion of the Alps, somewhere in Asia or down under or wherever. They aren’t building fitness for late July; the comprehensive plan is all about building a base for the long, grueling season ahead.
Bottom line: the Roma players’ legs are surely dead.
Roma practiced Tuesday at Sporting Park, then went through another full fitness workout at the Kansas City Chiefs’ indoor training complex. They were back at it Wednesday morning, with a full training session at Sporting Kansas City’s complex at Swope Park.
Christian Pulisic and Clint Dempsey combined for another goal, and the USMNT leads Panama 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier Tuesday in Panama City.
A physical, chippy first half didn’t see many clear cut chances and was 0-0 after 38. minutes.
[ STREAM: Live on Telemundo Deportes ]
The first 10 minutes were a bit frenetic, with the U.S. focused on adventurous first touch passes when it managed to earn the ball from Panama.
That feel wasn’t aided by the officiating, as Cesar Ramos was inconsistent in a very physical opening half-hour.
Then, the breakthrough. Dempsey moved to within a goal of Landon donovan’s all-time mark thanks to Pulisic, who cooked Felipe Baloy and held off Roman Torres before laying off to the veteran. 1-0, 39′.
The lead lasted all of three minutes, as Gomez pounced on a loose ball with the Yanks’ back line at sixes and sevens off a long throw-in. Gomez turned off Jermaine Jones and lost Villafana to bury his chance behind Howard. 1-1, 44′.
The United States looks to finish the international break in an automatic qualifier spot in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying table when it faces Panama in Panama City at 10:05 p.m. EDT Tuesday.
A lot of the faces are the same from the 6-0 demolition of Honduras in California on Friday, though John Brooks and Sebastian Lletget are out with injury.
Jermaine Jones replaces Lletget while Tim Ream moves into the fray for Brooks. Geoff Cameron played Friday’s match with a minor injury, and moves out of the XI for Graham Zusi.
USMNT: Howard; Villafana, Gonzalez, Ream, Zusi; Bradley, Jones, Nagbe; Pulisic, Dempsey, Altidore
Subs: Bingham, Rimando; Beasley, Besler, Camron, Zimmerman; Acosta, Arriola, Bedoya, Kljestan, McCarty, Pulisic; Wondolowski
Diego Reyes’ 58th minute header off a corner kick gave Mexico a lead it wouldn’t give up in a 1-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago at Hasely Crawford Stadium in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.
The win gives Mexico a table-topping 10 points, seven ahead of last-place T&T.
[ MORE: Honduras 1-1 Costa Rica ]
The Soca Warriors were in fine, stingy form early, and looked to have gone ahead on the counterattack when Joevin Jones belted a left-footer into the Mexico goal.
The linesman, however, ruled that Jones was offside. He almost certainly was not, as Mexico’s supreme luck in CONCACAF play continued for at least one night.
Hector Herrera hammered a shot off the far goal post early in the second half as Mexico attempted to grab control.
T&T goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams jammed Miguel Layun’s shot over the bar moments before the breakthrough from Reyes.
Williams then saved Javier Hernandez’s 64th minute offering as Mexico looked to put three points to bed.
Joevin Jones won a free kick in the 76th minute that gave a brief moment of light to T&T’s hopes, but Jones hit the wall and Mexico cleared the ball.
Honduras did the United States a favor by taking a point from visiting Costa Rica in Tuesday’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifier in San Pedro Sula.
Anthony Lozano pushed a 35th minute chance past an indecisive Keylor Navas, as Los Catrachos set the stage for a hopeful three points.
[ STREAM: T&T-Mexico, Panama-USMNT ]
Vancouver Whitecaps center back Kendall Waston’s haphazard defending helped allow the goal, but he scored off a late Costa Rica corner kick to ensure Costa Rica will finish the international break in second place.
With four points, Honduras moves ahead of Trinidad and Tobago and the United States before both sides play Tuesday.
Costa Rica beat the U.S. 4-0 in 2016, while the Yanks battered Honduras 6-0 on Friday.