Champs of Europe, Chelsea starts tour in Seattle
European Champions League winner Chelsea will try to move
forward from the roller coaster of recent months when its preseason
American tour begins on Wednesday night with a friendly against the
The short offseason has nearly matched the commotion of the
entire 2011-12 season for Chelsea. From striker Didier Drogba
leaving to play in China, to manager Roberto Di Matteo having the
interim tag removed, to John Terry being cleared of racially
abusing an opponent, it’s been a busy couple of months at Stamford
Throw in the signings of midfielders Eden Hazard from Lille and
Marko Marin from Werder Bremen and it hasn’t left much time for the
Blues to fully appreciate what they accomplished at the end of last
”The belief was always there. … Last season, besides from not
competing as much as we could have done in the Premier League, it
was a fantastic season,” Chelsea defender Gary Cahill said. ”It
was a great season and hopefully we can continue that into this
Just how rare was what Chelsea accomplished? Thanks to Drogba’s
clinching shootout penalty kick in the Champions League final
against Bayern Munich, Chelsea became the first English club since
Liverpool in 1981 to win a domestic cup title and the championship
of Europe in the same season, without winning the league title.
Manchester United won the FA Cup, Premier League and Champions
League in 1999.
Winning two cups by the end of the season was amazing, Cahill
said. ”So we need to push on from that. It’s nice to be involved
in all the competitions as we (were) and hopefully we can compete
more in the Premier League this season as well.”
Chelsea will be without five of its biggest names for the first
stop of a four-game American tour that will feature the first
soccer match at the new Yankee Stadium against Paris Saint-Germain,
a match with the MLS All-Stars in Philadelphia and rounding off
with a match against AC Milan in Miami.
Spanish stars Fernando Torres and Raul Meireles, who helped
Spain win the European Championship earlier this month, will join
the tour later. As will French midfielder Flourent Malouda and the
English defensive duo of Ashley Cole and Terry.
It was just last Friday that Terry was cleared of racially
abusing an opponent. He was accused by Queens Park Rangers defender
Anton Ferdinand of using racial and obscene language during a
Premier League match last October. While Terry was cleared in the
courts, he still may face punishment from the English Football
Association after it concludes its own investigation.
Even Ferdinand could receive punishment after both he and Terry
admitted during the court case to using obscene language during the
Premier League match that led to the trial.
It’s unclear when the five players will join the tour, although
they are expected to play at some point in the American tour.
Meanwhile, striker Daniel Sturridge (Britain), defender Ryan
Bertrand (Britain) and midfielder Juan Mata (Spain) are playing for
their respective countries at the Olympics. That creates an
opportunity for some younger players to impress Di Matteo ahead of
Chelsea’s Premier League opener on Aug. 19 at Wigan.
”Hopefully, I can make my mark and impress (Roberto),” said
19-year-old midfielder Josh McEachran, who already has 22
appearances for the Blues.
The match against Chelsea is the conclusion of a hectic month
for the Sounders. They get a 10-day break after Wednesday’s match
and hope this match against a Premier League club is less
embarrassing than their last.
A year ago, Seattle hosted Manchester United in its lone
international friendly and it was a competitive match for one half.
But as Seattle subbed in its reserves in the second half, Man
United brought on the likes of Wayne Rooney and Park Ji-sung and a
1-0 halftime margin turned into a 7-0 United rout.
Coach Sigi Schmid and general manager Adrian Hanauer said
afterward that they would reevaluate how to handle major
international exhibitions in the future. Schmid said Tuesday it
helps this time that the Sounders don’t have a game this weekend
and can play their starters more.
”The lasting impact is you don’t want to have that happen
again. That’s the whole thing,” Schmid said.
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