Sounders FC hang tough with Chelsea FC

On July18, the 65,289 fans attending the Sounders FC and Chelsea FC friendly were treated to a good show. The Sounders played well, but eventually lost 2 – 0. The attendance was the third largest ever for a game played in Seattle.

Prior to the game, Tacoma resident and glass blowing expert Dale Chihuly was the recipient of the Golden Scarf, and Chihuly created a statue called “Emerald Spire” for Chelsea as a souvenir. Chihuly will also make one for each friendly opponent in the next five years.

Chelsea’s newest weapon, 19-year-old striker Daniel Sturridge, was on full display as he scored the first goal of the match and assisted on the second.

“I think Seattle is a very good side,” Sturridge said. “It was quite hard out there because their defense was very strong. It was difficult to find space at the start but as the game went on, we gained a little bit of space and it was positive in the midfield. And we capitalized at the end.”

Up until the first goal, the Sounders seemed to have control of the match. They had possession of the ball for a majority of the time, and had a number of great attacks that were all blocked expertly.

“I was really impressed with the way the guys played,” said Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller. “They had a world all-star team out there, and I think until they scored the goal, I kind of felt that we were probably the more dangerous team. Obviously we didn’t sit back and try to defend. We wanted to attack and make it entertaining for everybody here.”

There was no shortage of exciting plays in the second half, some of which came on defense for the Sounders. One was a great block by backup goalie Kevin Boss, and another was a deflection by Zach Scott on a ball that had gotten past the goalkeeper.

Most Sounders opportunities were created by a speedy Freddie Ljungberg, who showed off his experience in dealing with Chelsea in the past as a member of Arsenal FC.

Younger Sounders, however, found that Chelsea closed their attack down with surprising speed. Conversely, Chelsea was able to attack with ease and had constant and efficient communication.

“Their defenders, their recovery was ridiculous,” said Sounders forward Steve Zakuani. “Their movement, their touch, that’s the biggest difference. They’re all very, very good at what they do. That’s why they are where they are.”

Chelsea’s new manager Carlo Ancelotti was smothered with questions about the future of Chelsea captain John Terry after the match, but he made it clear he preferred to talk about the game.

“The atmosphere was fantastic,” said Ancelotti. “It was a pleasure to play the game in this condition in these facilities with these people. These people are enthusiastic to play the game … It’s a pleasure to stay here.”

For the Sounders, it was quickly back to reality, as they faced the Houston Dynamo on Tuesday in the semifinal of the US Open Cup –a game they won 2 – 1 in overtime. The Sounders will now go on to face D.C. United in the US Open Cup championship match on September 2.

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