Last night's game against Chelsea FC was sold as a celebration of soccer. And it sure felt like it. With the pressure off, the Sounders' offense showed the same spark against Chelsea that they have when they have been at their best this season. Fredy Montero scored two very well-taken goals, showing a striker's determination to get on the score sheet. Fredy's aspirations to play in Europe--specifically the EPL--were a theme of the post-game interviews. Sure, on the other side of things, Chelsea's Belgian attack made Parke, Meredith, and the rest of the defense look exactly like what they are (MLS players), but all-in-all, the first half was a joy to watch.
The celebration kicked into a different gear in the second half, as a plethora of substitutions threw each team's timing off. But this allowing a bunch of players time on the field who do not normally get out there. Chelsea would have some great opportunities in the second half, using all of their substitutes, but could not put any of them away. The Sounders saw the return of Josh Ford to the pitch, getting a full 45 minutes of work. Supporters gave Steve Zakuani a very nice ovation on his second game back at Clink, though it was slightly subdued as he was not the focus of the night.
Last night was all about Roger Levesque. Old pirate face entered to a rousing applause, drinking it all in. Sigi Schmid later stated that, "If you know Roger, you know why he gets a standing ovation." He also called Roger "a Bohemian type of fellow," something with which I could not disagree. Fredy Montero made sure Roger got the captain's armband, a very nice touch; Fredy noted that, "we all know what this game was about. It was my passion to give it to him."
And, fittingly, Roger showed that he is a true embodiment of giving your Full 90--he spent 45 minutes on the pitch and at least 45 more after the game ended signing autographs.
Recap, Stats, and Quotes after the jump.
CFC - Romelu Lukaku (Josh McEachran) 3'
CFC - Eden Hazard (Mikel John Obi) 11'
SEA - Fredy Montero 14'
SEA - Fredy Montero (Mauro Rosales) 32'
CFC - Marko Marin (Josh McEachran) 40'
CFC - Romelu Lukaku (Marko Marin) 44'
Seattle Sounders FC: Bryan Meredith (Josh Ford 46), Zach Scott (Adam Johansson 71), Jeff Parke (Patrick Ianni 61), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez (Marc Burch 71), Mauro Rosales (Andy Rose 61), Brad Evans (Sammy Ochoa 71), Osvaldo Alonso (Steve Zakuani 82), Alvaro Fernandez (Servando Carrasco 75), Fredy Montero (Michael Seamon 82), Eddie Johnson (Roger Levesque 65).
Substitutes Not Used: Michael Tetteh, Daniel Steres.
TOTAL SHOTS: 17; SHOTS ON GOAL: 4; FOULS: 10; OFFSIDE: 3; CORNER KICKS: 8; SAVES: 5.
Chelsea FC: Henrique Hilario (Jamal Blackman 46), Branislav Ivanovic (Todd Kane 63), David Luiz (Sam Hutchinson 46), Paulo Ferreira (Geroge Saville 63), Nathaniel Chalobah (Gary Cahill 46), Mikel John Obi (Ramires 46), Eden Hazard (Gael Kakuta 63), Josh McEachran (Frank Lampard 46), Marko Marin (Michael Essien 46), Yossi Benayoun (Devin De Bruyne 46), Romelu Lukaku (Lucas Piazon 63).
Substitutes Not Used: None.
TOTAL SHOTS: 18; SHOTS ON GOAL: 9; FOULS: 8; OFFSIDE: 0; CORNER KICKS: 1; SAVES: 4.
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee's Assistants: Jeff Hosking, Mike Kampmeinert
4th Official: Yader Reyes
Attendance: 53,309 Time of Game: 1:48
Weather: Cloudy and 70 degrees
Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid
(Opening...) "I thought the first half offensively we did some good things - not only the two goals, but I thought we created some good chances. I think [Henrique] Hilario made a couple of good saves for them. So we were a bit unfortunate to maybe not get more than two goals. On the other side of the ball, defensively, I think we got caught napping on counter-attacks, on quick cut turnovers. Our transition wasn't very good and I think there were a couple of individual mistakes. We got manhandled on the first goal, we turnover a ball silly on the one goal, we get caught pushed up on the other goal when we're pushed up on the far side of the field. So those are things that we know we can't do. Maybe it's the exuberance of the game and we were having some success going forward, so maybe we did that and that resulted in the two late goals. But the two early goals it's just not being sharp, not being as ready as maybe we needed to be. There's still a difference - the speed of play is a little bit faster, for sure. Especially the speed of play from a standpoint of when balls turnover. And then the quality - that's why the value of the teams are drastically different."
(On if there is anything they can do better in terms of preparing for the level of competition of teams like Chelsea FC...) "To play against those kind of players week-in and week-out, because eventually if you play against those players week-in and week-out then you're going to get faster and you're going to react faster. That's what you're always trying to do is you're trying to bring your training up to as high a level as you can because that's what you do more often when you play games, so it's the higher the level that you can bring your training. Then again, the quality of players is going to take you to a certain level. When you look at players that they're bringing in or their players that aren't here for them - I mean, when they train they're training at a very high level against high-level players who are playing equally as fast. So when you train against that every day you have to adjust and your game becomes faster."
(On if the team's play today was better than the level of play they demonstrated a few years ago against Chelsea...) "Well, I think the level in MLS is improving constantly and I think offensively we were far more successful this time around than we were last time. Again, not just taking the standpoint because we scored two goals, but I think we also created a number of good chances and we were able to possess the ball in their end of the field. So from that standpoint I think we were good. I think what hurt us today was just transition and that needs to be better."
(On what made Chelsea the better team today and allowed them to score goals...) "Well, the class of their counter-attack and they close really quickly when they see a guy receive a ball in a bad position, and their recognition of that is very good. So from that standpoint that certainly helps. It's still that recognition factor is sharper on their end."
(On changing goalkeepers from Bryan Meredith to Josh Ford at halftime and on his decision to enter Roger Levesque into the game when he did...) "We were going to play Josh Ford today. We weren't quite sure how many minutes we were going to play him and at the end of the half I made the decision to let him play the whole second half, so that was the decision we made there. But we had anticipated him playing at least 30 [minutes], so it wasn't a big change. I didn't want to kill the game, but I did want to make sure we subbed Roger [Levesque] in on his own and not as a group of three or four, so that the crowd could appreciate the fact of him getting onto the field and get the opportunity to acknowledge what he's done. He's a very special person, and because of him being a special person that has made him a very special player for this club. It's great for him to go out today on a stage like that with the amount of fans that were there and to receive the recognition he got."
(On Fredy Montero's goals...) "Forwards are streaky. He got the goal in New York and he got two tonight, so hopefully he'll go on to a streak. The bench is a place that no player likes in particular - they're going to be respectful and they're probably not going to cuss and swear at me and things like that, but it burns inside and you want to show that, 'Hey, I belong here and I want to get on the field.' And that's the same whether that's Fredy or that's Brad Evans - who went to the bench for a little bit, or whoever it is. But I was pleased. I thought he took his goals well and he did good."
(On Brad Evans' injury status...) "We're not quite sure. He blocked it with the outside of his foot, so it looks like it might be a slight strain of the knee, but we're not sure."
(On Fredy Montero's desire to move to the EPL and if that is something he wants to hear as his coach...) "I think every player wants to play at the highest level that they can possibly play. I mean, certainly there's opportunities that exist that are there, is there a club that's interested that's there? I mean, his unique situation from a standpoint that you've got to have so many national team caps depending on what country you're from, have played in so many games...so you don't know what your opportunities are. But I want each and every one of our players to try and achieve as much as they want to achieve. If they're not hungry and trying to get to that next level and they're just very content and satisfied then maybe they lose a little bit of that edge, so you want guys to have that edge to play at the best level they can."
(On if he wants to hear his players' aspirations to play in the EPL or another league that is higher up...) "Always. It's always been the same. I've had players on clubs go overseas at different clubs that I've coached. When I was a youth coach in terms of the youth national team and stuff like that, seeing players go to foreign teams was great. Even when I was a college coach and having players leave college early and turn pro. When they're ready, they're ready and you want them to keep going up to the best level that they can play at."
(On if he believes Fredy Montero is ready to take that next step and play at a higher level...) "He's ready to play at another level. It's got to be the right situation, it's got to be the right opportunity for him, and then you've got to take advantage of it."
(On if he would have predicted 10 years ago that Roger Levesque would get a standing ovation at tonight's match...) "Ten years ago I knew who Roger was, but I didn't know Roger that well. If you know Roger you know why he gets a standing ovation. He's an endearing individual, he has a smile on his face, he did a little bit of his scuba-dive fall goal celebration there at the end, he's just a - I called him a Bohemian type of fellow - he's just enjoys life. He enjoys life, he enjoys what life brings to him and whatever circumstances he's in he finds a way to enjoy them. That's the kind of guy, that's just an infectious personality and he endears himself to people because of who he is."
Roger Levesque - Sounders FC Forward
(On when he entered the game...) "It brought me right back to the first day in 2009, walking out onto the field, seeing the stadium full and just hearing the chatter. Then the first Seattle Sounders chant just gets me every single time, and it will continue to do so forever. Just an amazing experience. I know that the game was great. I think the fans were sort of trying to feel it out a little bit early on. 'How is our team going to do against Chelsea?' But then the excitement built as goals started going in--a couple great goals from Fredy. It was just an awesome night."
(On if he had any regrets as the game came to a close...) "Right about the time that I blocked Andy Rose's header from going in. I was a little bit too old to get out of the way so I thought it was maybe the right time to hang them up."
(On getting the captain's armband when he entered the game...) "That was just Fredy being the person that he's grown into. Just a great man and a great soul. I was excited just to run out there and hear the fans. That was the best part."
(On what he'll remember from tonight...) "A little bit of everything. I think I approached it as mindful as I could be, just to take in as much as I could. Just sort of soak it in, whether it was the sights, the sounds, the smells--pretty much just everything. It really, really was a great way to go out. When you kind of come to the end of something, I find myself sort of thinking back and really appreciating the special moments, and this is one that's going to stay with me forever."
Fredy Montero - Sounders FC Forward
(On giving the captain's armband to Roger Levesque...) "Well, we all know what this game was about. It was my passion to give the captain's band to him."
(On how the team played...) "We did good, I think. We scored two goals against a tough team to play. Obviously, we did want to win the game, but at the end of the day we need to be focusing on MLS. I just look forward with what we have to do better and I think that's what we need to do."
(On scoring two goals tonight in the first 45 minutes...) "As a player you have to always be looking for mistakes, and I went through and I got the ball from the defender and just went for the goalie and scored a goal."
(On his attitude during the game tonight...) "I always try to have fun. I'm happy to be here. This is a good team to play with. I always have fun."
(On if he is proud of scoring two goals against Chelsea FC...) "I mean, I wish those goals came in MLS, but we need to keep trying and we know what the important thing is - and that's in MLS."
(On how he would tell the MLS All-Star team to prepare for Chelsea...) "Just try to play good. You don't have a responsibility to win the game, so just try to bring energy and something good for the people going to watch the game."
(On if he could see a difference in the way the Sounders played against Chelsea tonight compared to the way they played years ago...) "Yeah, I definitely noticed. This time we managed to score two goals and I believe we made it a close game. We were able to fight a close match."
(On if he would like to eventually play in the EPL...) "Yes, I would love to play there. I'm waiting for the right opportunity to come. I'm ready to play in one of those leagues, I think so."
(On what gives him confidence that he could succeed in the EPL...) "Well, because MLS is a league where we have something similar with Premier League. You always have tough defensive players and obviously every single day when you are in training you know the tactics, you know the speed of the game, and I think that's the same in the Premier League."
Marc Burch - Sounders FC Defender
(On Roger Levesque...) "I've only spent seven months with him now, but he's a pleasure every time you're with him. He always makes you happy, he's always smiling, and he's always asking how you're doing. And he really, genuinely cares. He's a great guy."
(On playing Chelsea...) "A team like that can always punish you. When you play against these types of teams, you can't make mistakes, and we made a few mistakes and they're going score. They're going to be able to have the speed, they're going to finish with quality. They did a great job tonight at finishing. They have some new players that are pretty quick, pretty good players."
(On reading the Chelsea players in the first half before coming on in the second...) "It really just depends on who's around you. There's some guys that you have give a cushion to and there's some guys you have to get tight so that they don't face you up. If a guy like that faces you up, he's going to beat you. They're quick enough, they're skillful enough, they'll always get around you...It's tough to defend people like that--guys that are tricky, crafty, and quick all the same time."
(On the prestige of a club like Chelsea...) "These are the best players in the world. You respect them for what they've done. They're not all old guys, some of them are new guys coming in and they've proven themselves already. You just really have a great respect for all of them."
(On the team playing better as the second half of the MLS season begins...) "I think we went back to the basics. We went back to working hard, fighting for each other, everybody defending, everybody working for each other, everybody covering for each other. When you do those kinds of things your skill is going to show, and I think that's what happened. Down in San Jose, we didn't have much quality on the field...but we fought harder than we've ever fought before, and that kind of brought us together. Then our skills started showing throughout the next few games. I think we've put in a good performance, and in every game we've stepped on the field we've looked pretty good."
Josh Ford - Sounders FC Goalkeeper
(On his nerves in his first game with the first team...) "Honestly, once he said I was going in at half, I was like, 'Alright, time to go put on my game face and time to just go do my thing.' I've been playing this game since I was little and that's all it was--just another game. The opponent didn't really matter. It was just kind of getting your first foot out there, see how it goes and see what goes from there."
(On playing in front of 50,000 fans...) "Obviously, screaming and yelling at your players is a little bit difficult, but it wasn't bad. I was really excited to be out there and that was the most important thing, just being able to play again since I haven't played in a long time."
(On coming back from so many injuries the past year...) "Obviously, it's been tough having been out for this long. I had a shoulder surgery earlier, and I knew I would come back from that, but this one was a little bit different. I definitely had a little bit of setbacks and that's one thing to get over--a setback during preseason and then playing the waiting game. Playing the waiting game is definitely a tough game to play."
Roberto Di Matteo - Chelsea FC Head Coach
(On new players to the club...) "I think it's good for them. First official game for the new crop and their scoring was good. It's also good that they had a good understanding with their new teammates and I'm pleased with the practice match today. I think we got what we were looking for, a very good evening."
(On the outcome...) "We were looking for a good workout. We had good possession and combination plays. It was good slowly integrating new players and also seeing some of our younger talents that we hope will be the future of this football club. We didn't get any injuries tonight; so far it's been very good."
(On the match...) "It was a great atmosphere. I know that the fans here in Seattle are crazy for soccer and they created a wonderful atmosphere in this friendly game."
(On the Sounders...) "I think they're a good team and they're third in the [MLS Western Conference] table now. You can see they have some good players and also saw them play on [Sunday] as well. At the end everybody played well."
(On Sounders that made an impression...) "Interesting player in [Fredy] Montero. Obviously Eddie Johnson, we know of his pace. He's always a danger too."
(On Fredy Montero...) "He has very good technical skills, movement and is also intelligent finding the spaces in between the lines."
Joshua McEachran - Chelsea FC Midfielder
(On Seattle...) "It's been really good, first time here. I thought it would be a lot hotter in the summertime but it has been alright, made it nice for training."
(On his impressions...) "The fans were really good today. The atmosphere was really good. The training ground and the stadium are first class."
(On starting the match...) "It was a good experience playing against American players."
Romelu Lukaku - Chelsea FC Forward
(On the game...) "It was important for the team. It was our first game as European champions so there was pressure. But when you play for Chelsea there is pressure week in and week out, and we won so that's the most important thing. The goals were good for me but the most important thing is for the team."
(On Seattle's comeback...) "No I don't think so, because we just started training and they were already playing in their season so they were a bit sharper at some points in the game. But we were very efficient; I think we had six shots in the first half and scored four goals so that means a lot."
(On his overall experience...) "It was very nice to be here, and also to play in front of so many fans. They are great and I congratulate the Seattle fans and also the Chelsea fans that came from England to here. We were very happy with their presence here so hopefully we'll have a lot of fans for the next couple of games."
Petr Cech - Chelsea FC Goalkeeper
(On the visit...) "It's good because we use the top quality facilities here. A main reason we come over here is because we have great facilities to train in. When you have a friendly game in a full stadium, it's a pleasure to come over here and enjoy the preseason."
(On the game...) "Today was a very positive result for us because we had all the new guys gelling in and they played really well in their first game. The Sounders are in the middle of their season and are a lot more fit, and you can see the difference. They are much fitter and we just started our preseason so it was good to see that we could start out on the right track."
(On Jamal Blackman's performance...) "He made the right decisions. He looked calm, that's the main part. You can see he's been training a long time and last season he played some friendly games. You can see his progression is going on very well."