Sunday, August 11, 2013

Stars Shine at RFK; Chelsea Tops A.S. Roma 2-1

Roma's Francesco Totti (10) drives on Victor Moses

RKF Stadium played host to nine of the top 100 players in the world (according to last year's list from The Guardian) as Chelsea FC edged AS Roma 2-1 in front of an appreciative (yet far from rowdy) crowd of 25,615. The well-behaved crowd could likely be attributed to the fact that last night's game was (1) a friendly, and (2) the final game on an American goodwill tour for both teams. The play was nothing short of spectacular.

$100 a ticket for a seat three levels up ain't cheap; but both Chelsea & Roma put on a show from the opening seconds, erasing any doubts about the price of admission. After 20 minutes of exciting back and forth action, Chelsea goalie (and former Fulham star) Mark Schwarzer flubbed a slow back-pass from Ryan Bertrand, which wound up hitting the post and landing on the foot of the luckiest man on the pitch... Roma forward Erik Mamela, who tucked it in from a yard out to put the famed Italian club up 1-0.

Oscar and John Terry (r) congratulate Frank Lampard on 2nd-half goal

After halftime, Blues' manager José Mourinho brought in his A-team, including stars Oscar, Ramires and Frank Lampard to shake things up a bit. And that, they did. Lampard tied things up at 1-1 on an impressive 20-foot scorcher past Roma keeper Morgan De Sanctis. Roma then took their turn, abandoning their normally defensive style for a pressing attack, led by Francesco Totti and US National teamer Michael Bradley. The score remained tied at 1, until Belgian star Eden Hazard raced down the left side of the pitch with just minutes left, setting up the game winner by fellow Belgian Romelu Lukaku, who had just entered the game moments earlier in place of John Terry.

Demba Ba (19) celebrates Romelu Lukaku's GW goal

My pal Danny (thanks for treating!) and I screamed out of RFK to beat the Metro crowd (Note to Metro: You need more trains!) but there was no denying the consensus feeling of everyone at Stadium-Armory that we had all just witnessed some of the best DC soccer in a long time (all due respect to our hometown United.) Here's hoping that the soccer gods plan more of these friendlies next summer: I'm all in!

Corner kick for Chelsea's Andre Schurrle