GAME: Chelsea (Premier League) at Seattle Sounders FC (MLS). TYPE: International friendly. WHEN: Wednesday, 6:30 p.m., CenturyLink Field. MEETING: 3rd (series tied 1-1). TV: ESPN2. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM.
The Sounders take a break from MLS and U.S. Open Cup competitions Wednesday to host the famed side Chelsea in an international friendly at CenturyLink Field. Chelsea, which captured England’s FA Cup last season, is playing its first match since winning the Champions League final against Bayern Munich May 19.
The Seattle-Chelsea pairing marks the second time in four years that a Champions League winner will face the Sounders. FC Barcelona played at Seattle Aug. 5, 2009 at then-Qwest Field and trounced the Sounders 4-0 in front of 66,848.
Chelsea’s appearance in Seattle — three years to the day of the club’s last visit — will kick off its four-match American tour. The Blues will also take on French superpower Paris Saint Germain Sunday at Yankee Stadium, the MLS All-Stars July 25 at PPL Park in Pittsburgh, and AC Milan at Sun Life Stadium in Miami July 28.
Based in Fulham, London, Chelsea has been FA Cup winners seven times, League Cup winners four times, English champions four times, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup winners twice and UEFA Champions League winners once.
The friendly will mark Chelsea’s fifth visit to Seattle and third to CenturyLink Field. In 2004 (July 24) the Blues defeated Scotland’s Celtic, 4-2, in front of a crowd of 30,504. The original North American Soccer League Sounders won a friendly, 2-0, at the Kingdome in 1977. Chelsea first visited Seattle in 1967, defeating a local amateur side, 5-0, at Memorial Stadium.
Chelsea’s roster features Englishman Frank Lampard, who captained the club in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich. Lampard is Chelsea’s top scoring midfielder ever, while Czech goalkeeper Peter Cech holds records for the most clean sheets and fewest goals conceded in an English top-flight season.
Five Chelsea players who made it beyond the group stage of EURO 2012 — Ashley Cole, John Terry, Florent Malouda, Raul Meireles and Fernando Torres — will join the Blues later during the course of their American tour.
The Sounders are eager to avoid the embarrassment of the last friendly, a 7-0 wallop by Manchester United a year ago, when the English side kept its starters on the field in the second half longer than anticipated, while the Sounders substituted.
“The lasting impact is that you don’t want that to happen again,” coach Sigi Schmid said. The Sounders are expected to stick with the regulars longer, although two reserves are expected to see time.
Roger Levesque announced last week that he will retire after the game to pursue a Master’s degree at the University of Washington, and Steve Zakuani, still recovering from a broken leg 15 months ago, needs game action. It also helps that Zakuani grew up in London as a fan of Chelsea’s rival, Arsenal.
Since 2009, the Sounders have played six international friendlies at CenturyLink, are 2-4 in those matches and have been outscored 16-7, including 7-0 by Manchester United July 20, 2011. These are all of the friendlies held at CenturyLink:
FRIENDLIES AT CENTURYLINK
|2004||July 24||Chelsea (England) 4, Celtic (Scotland) 2||—–||30,504|
|2009||July 18||Chelsea (England) 2, Sounders 0||0-1||65,829|
|2009||Aug. 5||FC Barcelona (Spain) 4, Sounders 0||0-2||66,848|
|2010||May 26||Sounders 3, Boca Juniors (Argentina) 0||1-3||40,122|
|2010||July 18||Celtic FC (Scotland) 2, Sounders 1||1-4||45,631|
|2010||Oct. 12||Sounders 3, Chivas de Guadalajara 1||2-4||41,047|
|2011||July 20||Manchester U. (England) 7, Sounders 0||2-5||67,052|
Founded in 1905, Chelsea plays in the Premier League and has spent most of its history in the top tier of English football.
- Chelsea plays home matches in 41,837-seat Stamford Bridge stadium, where it has played since the club’s establishment.
- Average home gate for the 2011-12 season was 41,478, sixth highest in the Premier League.
- In April 2012, Chelsea was ranked by Forbes Magazine as the seventh most valuable soccer club in the world, at $761 million.
- The Chelsea club has been owned since 2003 by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.
- A 2004 survey by Planetfootball.com found that Chelsea fans consider their main rivalries to be with (in order): Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United.
- Alan Hudson, who played for the North American Soccer League Sounders in the late 1970s and early 1980s, starred for Chelsea from 1968-74.
- Tommy Baldwin came to Seattle for the 1975 season, a year after completing a nine-year run at Stamford Bridge. He scored 74 goals and was a member of the FA Cup winners in 1970 (and runners-up in 1967).
- The following have called Chelsea home: Anne of Cleves, Francis Bacon, Dame Agatha Christie, Eric Clapton, T.S. Eliot, Mick Jagger, Sir Thomas More, Sir Laurence Olivier, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, J.R.R. Tolkien and Oscar Wilde.
DAVIES SALUTE: The Sounders will present former NASL legend Roger Davies with a “Golden Scarf” prior to the Chelsea match. The ceremony was created to honor a group or individual in recognition of their impact in the soccer community.
“Roger played an integral role in growing the sport of soccer in the Pacific Northwest,” said Sounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer. “His visit provides the organization and especially local soccer fans an opportunity to thank him personally.”
Davies signed to play for the NASL Sounders in 1980 and his season was one of the best in club history. Davies scored 25 goals in 29 games and had 11 assists. Davies was selected the league’s MVP. He also played an important role in Seattle reaching Soccer Bowl ’82.
In 1973, Davies became a part of Derby County lore during a third round FA Cup replay at Tottenham Hotspur. In the 80-minute mark, Tottenham held a 3-1 lead, all but assured of advancement to the next round, when Davies scored twice in quick succession to tie the match. He rounded out a hat trick in extra time as Derby eliminated Tottenham, 5-3.
Following his NASL career, Davies became a manager for Rolls Royce and an active member of Derby County’s team. He now provides radio commentary for Derby County games.
“I really look forward to our week in Seattle and the match against Chelsea, especially the opportunity to see the great Sounders fans again who were exceptional to me,” said Davies. “No other club comes close to the passion of these fans.”
The Golden Scarf ceremony was launched in 2009 during the Sounders’ inaugural season and presented at each home match. Over the last two seasons, the ceremony has taken place prior to the team’s international friendlies.
The Sounders will open the stadium’s upper deck for the match with Chelsea, as well as for an upcoming match with the Los Angeles Galaxy and Cascadia Cup matches. These are the best-attended soccer matches in Seattle history:
|2011||July 20||Manchester (England) 7, Sounders 0||IF||67,052|
|2009||Aug. 5||FC Barcelona (Spain) 4, Sounders 0||IF||66,848|
|2009||July 18||Chelsea (England) 2, Sounders 0||IF||65,829|
|2006||Aug. 9||Real Madrid (Spain) 1, D.C. United 1||IF||66,830|
|2003||Juy 22||Manchester (England) 4, Celtic (Scotland) 1||IF||66,722|
|2011||Oct. 15||Sounders 2, San Jose Earthquakes 1||MLS||64,140|
|1976||April 9||Cosmos 3, Sounders 1||NASL Ex.||58,128|
|1977||Aug. 25||Sounders 1, Los Angeles Aztecs 0||NASL||56,256|
|1980||Aug. 9||Cosmos 1, Sounders 0||NASL||49,606|
|2012||June 20||Sounders 1, Sporting Kansas City 1||MLS||46,932|
|2011||June 23||Sounders 4, New York Red Bulls 2||MLS||46,065|
|2010||July 18||Celtic (Scotland) 2, Sounders 1||IF||45,631|
|1977||Aug. 17||Sounders 1, Minnesota Kicks 0||NASL||42,091|
|1977||July 10||Sounders 1, Cosmos 0||NASL||41,270|
|2010||Oct. 12||Sounders 3, Chivas De Guadalajara 0||CCL||41,047|
|2010||May 26||Sounders 3, Boca Juniors (Argentina) 0||IF||40,122|
COMING UP: When the Sounders (8-5-7, 31 points) return to MLS action in two weeks, the team will play six games in a 21-day stretch, beginning with a road date at Colorado July 28 and continuing with a home match against Trinidad’s Caledonia in the CONCACAF Champions League as well as the U.S. Open Cup final at Kansas City.
Seattle Sounders FC 2012 Schedule / Results
(8-5-6, 30 points, MLS; 1-1 CCL; 4-0 U.S. Open Cup)
|4/7||^at DC United||4:30||KING||D||0-0||2-1-1|
|5/9||^at FC Dallas||5:30||KONG||W||2-0||7-1-1|
|6/26||&at San Jose||7:30||Webcast||W||1-0||3-0-0|
|6/30||^at New England||4:30||KONG||D||2-2||7-5-5|
|7/15||^at New York||1:00||ESPN||D||2-2||8-5-7|
|8/5||^vs. LA Galaxy||6:00||ESPN2||—||—||—|
|8/8||&at Sport KC||6:00||TBD||—||—||—|
|8/11||^at San Jose||7:30||KING||—||—||—|
|9/2||^at FC Dallas||4:00||KING||—||—||—|
|10/21||^vs. FC Dallas||6:00||ESPN||—||—||—|
|10/28||^at LA Galaxy||6:00||ESPN||—||—||—|
*=CONCACAF; ^=Major League Soccer; #=International friendly; &=U.S. Open Cup