Chelsea FC arrived in Seattle over the weekend. Some of the world's greatest players will face the Seattle Sounders on a overlaid grass field at CenturyLink. For both teams this is as much about brand extension as anything else. The London club could prepare anywhere, but they chose here through some combination of factors that includes, but isn't limited to, monetary payout, relationship with league, relationship with sponsors, liking Seattle from their last visit, wanting somewhere a bit cool, etc. The European and FA Cup champions have some new players (Eden Hazard being the biggest name) and a coach that took over mid-year in 2011/12.
So they are also concerned about training. That's their biggest goal probably. They will score goals. They will almost certainly win. Wednesday's friendly isn't about winning and losing in that 90 minutes though. Seasons aren't made or broken based on friendly success. The Sounders best ever run of form came after they were crushed by some team from Manchester. This match is about trying some new things, enjoying the beautiful game and maybe seeing something never seen before.
Helping Sounder at Heart preview the match v Chelsea is Graham of We Ain't Got No History. Oddly enough if neither of us wrote about soccer, both of us wouldn't. Part of why this game is cool is because we'll get to see each other again.
SaH: Chelsea won the Champions League by sitting back; they certainly won't do that Wednesday. How will they play?
WAGNH: Um. It's preseason, so probably slowly. Their personnel fit in a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 pretty well. Obviously they won't be sitting back like Seattle are Bayern Munich or Barcelona. If in 4-2-3-1, expect most of the attacking play to run through Eden Hazard in the centre, with Frank Lampard looking to hit Marko Marin and Ramires with long diagonals to start counterattacks. Fernando Torres isn't around, which means Romelu Lukaku will lead the line. He plays like a slightly belligerent tank.
SaH: Which player are you most excited to see live?
WAGNH: Eden Hazard. He's shiny, new and one of the best players Chelsea have ever signed. Marin will be interesting, I'm always happy to watch David Luiz, and I'm expecting Josh McEachran and Kevin de Bruyne to both show up at some point as well. They're both excellent prospects.
SaH: Is there a Sounder that could have a good game due to matchups?
WAGNH: I don't know how the Sounders will set up, but whoever's on the right wing should have a good day. Marin defends like this simile is good writing, and Paulo Ferreira is old and slow. On the other side, Branislav Ivanovic and Ramires are much stronger, so expect most of Seattle's attacking play to go down the right.
SaH: Sure, I can't count. You followed Chelsea before they were a global brand. How'd they manage to become one?
WAGNH: Imagine winning a war with strategic nuclear weaponry. Chelsea did that, except with money.
Reminders: YOu can watch Chelsea train tomorrow night at CenturyLink Field. It is free! Prior to the game on Wednesday night Allstate is hosting a FanFest. You can meet Tony Meola.