Liverpool started off their United States tour by losing to Italian giants Roma 1-0 at Fenway Park in a rather dull match. The game was played at Fenway Park, home of the Green Monster, and the usual home to the Boston Red Sox. John W. Henry, a billionaire who owns the Red Sox and the Boston Globe, also bought Liverpool F.C. back in October of 2010. This is the second time that the Reds have played A. S. Roma in Fenway Park. In the previous meeting, Roma ran out as 2-1 winners. Roma also has strong ties to America, with the President of the club being Italian-American James Pallotta.
It looked as if the match would end tied at nil-nil, when in the 90th minute substitute Marco Borriello volley an out-swinging corner from Stefano Pettinari at goal. The shot deflected off Liverpool center–back Daniel Agger and past keeper Brad Jones into the net. The goal was officially awarded to Borriello, but could have easily been an own goal. It was not the prettiest goal, but it gave Roma the Buick Trophy and kept the game from ending in penalty kicks. Both managers, Brendan Rogers and Rudi Garcia, implemented a huge number of changes in the second half, which disrupted the flow of the game.
Both teams were without their World Cup stars. They are still on resting after the summer tournament, but the squads were not the weakest they could have been either. Liverpool started regulars Martin Skrtel, Lucas Leiva, Joe Allen, Phillippe Coutinho, and newcomer Rickie Lambert among others. Roma started the game with a solid eleven as well. Radja Nainggolan, Juan Iturbe, Francesco Totti, Alessandro Florenzi, Adem Ljajić, Mehdi Benatia, and Ashley Cole were all picked to begin the match.
Philippe Coutinho was widely regarded as the man of the match for Liverpool in their 1-0 loss to Roma at Fenway Park. Matt Ladson of Bleacher Report called him the “Keymaster” for how he opened up the Roma defense on numerous occasions. The Brazilian playmaker can play all over the left side of the field and drift into the middle of the pitch. He has excellent vision and is very strong at supplying through balls and key passes to his forward runners. According to WhoScored, he had 28 appearances last season in the Premier League with five goals and seven assists. His best position was as a central attacking midfielder, where Coutinho had five assists in eight games, earning a 7.84 rating.
In preseason friendly matches, everyone hopes that no injuries occur, but unfortunately Fabio Borini had to be taken off in the 9th minute. He landed awkwardly on his shoulder with Roma defender Seydou Keita landing atop the Italian to add insult to injury. Borini had previously played for Roma during the 2011-2012 season, scoring nine goals in 24 appearances. Another unfortunate incident, but one that occurs often in professional sports, was the booing of Ashley Cole. The former Chelsea left-back was greeted with a chorus of boos every time he touched the ball. Liverpool and Chelsea are rivals in the English Premier League and Cole was not the most well likely player, having had the nickname “Cashley.” Cole decided to go to Roma to stay competitive, even though he had lucrative offers from a number of MLS teams.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers said after the game, “These are two Champions League teams that are at a good level of preseason, and two sets of committed players that are very competitive. Both teams wanted to play well. I thought it was a perfect game at this stage of our preparation.” The match was the Merseyside team’s third preseason friendly of the year. The Reds lost against Norwegian side Brøndby 2-1 in the first game, and then came from behind to beat Preston North End 2-1 in the second. Up next after the 1-0 loss to Roma at Fenway Park for Liverpool is a trip to another iconic American stadium Soldier Field in Chicago. The Reds will play Greek side Olympiacos on July 27 in the Guinness International Champions Cup.
Commentary by B. Taylor Rash