Fights disrupt Roma's 2-1 win over El Salvador
A second-half strike by Bojan Krkic gave Roma an ill-tempered 2-1 victory over El Salvador on Friday, completing an unbeaten three-game U.S. tour for the Serie A club.
The match was marred by three altercations, with the most serious coming in the 81st minute when Panagiotis Tachtsidis tangled with El Salvador defenders to bring on the game's third shower of debris from the stands at Red Bull Arena. Tachtsidis was sent off and became enraged after being hit by what appeared to be a piece of fruit.
For El Salvador, the game represented a chance to start afresh just 17 days after its coach resigned. The squad trained for only two days under new coach Juan de Dios Castillo and appeared disorganized in a first half during which Roma took a 1-0 lead.
Pablo Daniel Osvaldo, who was involved in the first scrap of the night when he went jaw-to-jaw with Salvadorian captain Dennis Alas in the first half, scored in the second minute when he beat defender Mardoqueo Henriquez down the right side. The forward, who scored 11 goals in 26 Serie A appearances last season, found just enough space to square up and put a low shot into the left corner past goalkeeper Dagoberto Portillo.
El Salvador equalized through forward Isidro Gutierrez in the 49th minute, but couldn't capitalize on three later chances, with Roma keeper Rbogdan Lobont smothering all of them.
Krkic, who scored seven goals for Roma last season, got the winner when he slid the ball in off the post.
Tempers flared as Roma continued its physical play, drawing three yellow cards - including one for Erik Manuel Lamela after a flare-up - and the wrath of the mostly pro-Salvador crowd of 14,651. The crowd had to be warned three times as it littered the field with water bottles and food wrappers.
''I think the referee and his assistants made the wrong decision (in red-carding Tachtsidis),'' Roma coach Zbenek Zemen said. ''And then we reacted wrong. We shouldn't have done that.''
As for El Salvador, Castillo said: ''We only worked a couple of days. But we see a bright future. We created many chances, but we couldn't convert. But this gives us a chance at improving in the future.''
Roma's U.S. international Michael Bradley wasn't put off by testy nature of the match.
''You want to play in games that are game-like,'' said Bradley, in his first year as Roma's starting central midfielder. ''The minute you play in games that look too much like friendlies, that's no good for anybody.''
Roma, which finished seventh in Serie A last season, returns to Europe to prepare for its opener against Catania the weekend of Aug. 25-26. The Giallorossi previously beat the Polish side Zaglebie Lubin 4-0 at Wrigley Field and Liverpool 2-1 in Fenway Park on its U.S. tour.
Bradley said he expects to see exactly this kind of game in Serie A.
''The first thing you notice is the passion and the emotion they have for football in Serie A,'' Bradley said. ''There's a great deal of tactical commitment and ability, and then you throw in the mentality that you're going to fight to get a point every weekend, it's a great thing.''