Chelsea ends U.S Tour with 1-0 loss to A.C. Milan
Saturday evening Chelsea looked like a team that was withering after two weeks in the American summer heat. You can hardly blame them since the past two weeks have been packed with travel, two-a-day training sessions, loads of publicity appearances, and of course four heavily hyped friendlies.
After starting the U.S. tour with that promising 4-2 defeat of Seattle Sounders, things have gone downhill a bit, with a draw against Paris St. Germain, followed by losses to the MLS All-Stars and A.C. Milan last night. Yes, it’s only preseason. Obviously the important thing on these tours is team preparedness and bonding – getting as ready as possible before the games really count. The tour has certainly been successful from a marketing standpoint with each of the stadiums mostly full and Chelsea fans turning up in droves for every match. Still, ending the tour with consecutive losses must have at least a small negative psychological effect. You like to see those engines fully revved in preseason, but there’s still time to get ready.
Considering all that the Blues have been through on this tour, it’s hard to be too disappointed or critical about losing to A.C. Milan. It’s not like Milan dominated or anything, in fact, Chelsea controlled large portions of the match. But if there was one minor alarm that went off for me last night, it’s that Chelsea’s play was eerily similar to the way they played much of the first half of last season. That is, controlling most of their matches without actually scoring. Possession without points. Chelsea has a very strong midfield, but they’ve got to produce more goals this season.
Fortunately, the team has a few more weeks to work out the kinks. The biggest readiness test will be that August 12 Community Shield match against Manchester City.
I want to thank everyone for stopping by the blog during the past two weeks. You’ve brought record readership to the site during Chelsea’s American tour. I sincerely appreciate your clicks and I hope you will swing by again often during this season!
Your thoughts on Chelsea’s performance against A.C. Milan?
Chelsea unveils 3rd kit
Chelsea trained in Miami for the first time yesterday evening in preparation for their final U.S. preseason game against A.C. Milan Saturday night. The Blues will undoubtedly be antsy for a win after tying Paris St. Germain in New York and losing to the MLS All-Stars in Philadelphia. Should be a fun one against A.C. Milan.
Yesterday Chelsea unveiled the all-important (not really) “third” kit – an interesting yellow and black number inspired either by Tron or 80s big-hair metal band Stryper. I’m not sure which…
I’m not a big fan of this 3rd kit, though there are far worse jerseys to be featured in the Premier League this season (for proof check out this and especially this). Chelsea has also had worse 3rd kits in the past, although I liked last season’s 3rd (which has sentimental value as the kit worn in that historic win at Barcelona to reach the Champions League final). Generally, I prefer jerseys that aren’t too busy, and this new kit has a little too much going on for my taste (particularly those ab-highlighting lines). But the 3rd is usually just a cameo jersey, so we probably won’t see it very often.
As a side note, Chelsea wore their new away kit for the first time against the MLS All-Stars the other night and I thought it worked well. The previously bashed sash on the jersey didn’t bother me that much.
Some Blues-related news I’ve seen today includes Benayoun possibly being loaned to Fulham, and Marseille possibly selling defender Cesar Azpilicueta to Chelsea. I like Benayoun, but at 32-years-old, I don’t expect Chelsea will keep him this season. Fulham would probably be a good gig for Benayoun. As for Azpilicueta, I don’t remember much about him from watching Marseille in the Champions League last season, but I welcome the signing of another defender.
What do you think of Chelsea’s new 3rd kit?
MLS All-Stars beat Chelsea 3-2
They’re still in preseason. They’re still in preseason. They’re still in preseason. That’s what I’ve had to keep telling myself about Chelsea since the loss last night to the MLS All-Stars in Philadelphia. Actually, it wasn’t a poor Chelsea performance. And the All-Stars weren’t particularly starry. It was a decent game with a decent number of scoring chances for both teams. Still, I’d rather Chelsea have won.
Michael Essien was on fire last night. He looked like the pre-2011-injury Essien (which is a good thing). Perhaps he is just now fully recovered from the knee injury that wrecked half of last season for him. Or, perhaps he was just a man on a mission to show Di Matteo that he can still take care of business in midfield. Regardless, he looked great and made a tremendous case for himself. His was aggressive and fast on defense. His passes were back to their old accuracy. It was great to see.
For all the talk about Chelsea’s supposed youth revolution this summer, look who scored the Blues’ goals last night – Terry and Lampard. These guys just keep on ticking. I don’t know how many more seasons they’ve got left in them, but as long as they keep contributing like this, it’s hard to think about replacing them.
New Blues Marko Marin and Eden Hazard didn’t quite click with the team last night. Marin held onto the ball a little too long in the box on several occasions when a quicker shot or pass might’ve been the better option. Unfortunately, Hazard simply didn’t get many opportunities to show his stuff when he came on in the second half.
Lukaku’s effort was decent. I’d like to see him pull the trigger on shots more often. He could be a little more selfish with the ball in front of goal. And we still haven’t gotten a good look at his heading ability. But overall he had a better game than he did against PSG.
One of the trickiest aspects of Di Matteo’s job this summer will be figuring out what the best combination of players is, particularly in midfield. That job is even harder with some key guys like Mata and Sturridge currently busy at the Olympics. I thought the first half offensive group (Lampard, Essien, Benayoun, Ramires, Marin, Lukaku) significantly outperformed the second half group (Mikel, Meireles, Hazard, Piazon, Malouda, De Bruyne).
Last night’s loss was disappointing because you want to see your team dominate in preseason. But it’s not that big a deal. There is a still lot of preseason yet to go. The team is already in Miami for their final U.S. Tour stop where they’ll play A.C. Milan on Saturday.
Your thoughts on Chelsea’s performance last night?
Chelsea takes on MLS All-Stars tonight
I’m looking forward to Chelsea’s big clash against the MLS All-Stars tonight. Should be a pretty close game. Sounds like Di Matteo may let several players go the full 90. Doesn’t look like Torres will play tonight at all though. You can hear some of Di Matteo’s and Lampard’s comments about the match and MLS’ development here.
The big player news of the day involves… whom else? Oscar the Brazilian Wonder Kid of course! Chelsea has officially confirmed the 18-year-old’s signing. Increasingly, this is shaping up to be a torch-passing season for Chelsea between the veteran Blues and the brand new youngsters. Chelsea haven’t played it safe with their signings this summer. The moves have definitely been made with an eye toward the long-term future.
One of Chelsea’s brand new youngsters, Kevin De Bruyne, may be headed on loan to Bundesliga club Werder Bremen for this season. De Bruyne showed a lot of life in Chelsea’s first preseason game against the Sounders, though he was less visible in the PSG game. With so many midfielders to choose from, sending De Bruyne on loan may be the first of many tough personnel decisions Di Matteo has to make over the next few weeks.
Who do you hope to see play for Chelsea tonight?
Chelsea head to Philadelphia for MLS All-Star Game
Chelsea tied Paris St. Germain 1-1 in last night’s match at Yankee Stadium. It was a ho-hum game for the most part – not bad by any means, just a little stuck in lower gear. PSG was definitely a step up competition-wise from the Sounders game. Some better finishing might’ve garnered Chelsea the victory, but it was still a good battle back to tie the game. Today the team travels by train to Philadelphia for Wednesday’s clash with MLS All-Stars.
I still like the promise displayed by Hazard and Marin in last night’s game. They could make a big impact for Chelsea this season. I was less impressed with Lukaku and De Bruyne last night than against Seattle. Hutchinson also looked a little shaky on defense and too hasty with several passes. I wish McEachran had seen more of the ball when he came on in the second half. I also wish Malouda would regain his former sharpness in the final third. He had one of Chelsea’s best scoring opps of the match but smacked it directly at PSG’s keeper.
But these are small criticisms considering it’s preseason with lots of player rotation. And considering there are so many young players on this tour. Speaking of – how ‘bout 18-year-old Brazilian Lucas Piazon’s second half goal? Ramires (also Brazilian!) slipped Piazon the sweet pass that led to the goal. Earlier in the game I complained aloud about this whippersnapper Piazon who seems to have a penchant for trying to dribble around defenders instead of passing. Equalizing goals have a penchant for shutting me up. Piazon’s probably too young to earn a spot with Chelsea this season, but perhaps we glimpsed a bright future Blue last night.
Today’s Oscar the Brazilian Wonder Kid update swings back in the direction of him actually joining Chelsea. What that means is, nobody really knows for sure.
There are a couple items today about expensive German club players that Chelsea has tried to get – Andre Schurrle of Bayer Leverkusen and Robert Lewandowski of Borussia Dortmund. That’s the downside of being one of the world’s moneybags clubs, everyone tries to fleece you.
There’s also much chat today about Frank Lampard’s potential MLS future. I think it’s a non-story. The guy is committed to Chelsea to the end of his contract. Sounds like he answered reporters honestly after last night’s game because his future beyond this season really is up to Chelsea. They may decide not to renew, but I think that would be the only scenario that would send Lamps to MLS. By the way, if that does happen, FC Dallas wants you Frank!*
*I have no authority to speak on behalf of FC Dallas. But I’m inviting you to join the club anyway!
Your thoughts on the Chelsea/PSG match last night?
Chelsea makes second stop on U.S. tour
Chelsea arrived in New York City yesterday to prep for their Sunday match against aspiring super club Paris St. Germain. Before making it out of Seattle, the players enjoyed an impromptu runway training session while waiting out a flight delay.
Much of the deal news this week revolved around Chelsea possibly signing Oscar the Brazilian Wonder Kid. It seemed like a done deal, but now Oscar’s back pedaling. He confirmed he had a physical with the Chelsea folk, but says he won’t make a decision about his future until after the Olympics. This kind of intrigue is always amusing and predictable. I’m sure there’s an agent behind the scenes advising Oscar to be cryptic to ensure continued headlines for a couple more weeks. Anyways, you often can’t tell these deals are final until you actually see the player suited up on the sideline.
Another Brazilian in the news this week was Willian. His club Shakhtar Donetsk supposedly rejected a Chelsea bid for the attacking midfielder earlier this week. Now Willian’s making no bones about his desire to bolt Shak Don for Chelsea.
It’s anyone’s guess how the Oscar, Willian, or Victor Moses deals will go down (or won’t go down)! One thing’s for sure – it will be an interesting few weeks leading up to the Chelsea v. Manchester City Community Shield match which unofficially kicks off the new season on August 12th.
I’m looking forward to the Chelsea v. Paris St. Germain friendly at Yankee Stadium tomorrow. Fox Soccer will be carrying the match live. Should be an energetic game and unique atmosphere. The baseball stadium atmosphere is apparently appealing to a lot of U.S. fans this summer – check out what tickets are selling for…
Who would you rather see land at Chelsea – Oscar, Willian, or Moses?
Chelsea wraps up Seattle leg of U.S. tour
Chelsea had one more training session this morning in Seattle before hopping a plane bound for New York City. The club faces their former manager Carlo Ancelotti and his current team Paris St. Germain in another preseason friendly Sunday. It will be the first ever soccer match to be played at the new Yankee Stadium.
While the team trains and tours in the U.S., the deal making for new players continues in London. Here is the latest rumor rundown:
Coach Di Matteo confirmed the club is in talks to get Victor Moses from Wigan. Apparently Wigan wants several more buckets of cash than Chelsea has offered so far. I can take or leave this deal. Chelsea certainly shouldn’t overpay for him. A better striker option would be checking to see if Newcastle’s Demba Ba or Papiss Cisse have any brothers in Senegal.
Thorgan Hazard may become a Chelsea player within a day or two, but nothing official from Chelsea yet. If the deal goes through, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him fairly quickly loaned to another Premier League club given he’s only 19-years-old and Chelsea has a very packed roster right now.
Chelsea may be after Marseille’s 22-year-old Spanish right-back Cesar Azpilicueta. Chelsea could use some back line bolstering, so this deal could be interesting. I bet there’s going to be a whole lotta soccer wheeling and dealing going on with all these under-23 national teams in London for the Olympics!
Check out this New York Times story exploring why some of America’s most famous baseball stadiums are hosting big international soccer club matches this summer. Wondering how a soccer pitch is going to work in Yankee Stadium? Check out the diagram below and these photos of the pitch being prepared.
Apparently starring in a classic soccer comedy like Kicking & Screaming (I’m not being sarcastic – I actually think that movie’s hilarious) affords you lifetime access to Chelsea FC. Check out Blues fan Will Ferrell and comedian Zach Galifianakis chillin’ with Chelsea (and with the European Cup) in Seattle yesterday.
I particularly like the random autographed St. Louis Rams helmet Will and Zach apparently gave Chelsea. I have no idea why it was a Rams helmet, but it’s pretty vintage Will Ferrell. Good times!
Thoughts on the potential Moses, Thorgan Hazard, or Azpilicueta deals?
Blues arrive in America for two week tour
The blog has been on pause for a couple weeks while I’ve been vacationing with my family. But I’m back home now, just in time for Chelsea’s arrival stateside for their four-city tour, which kicks off this Wednesday in Seattle against the Sounders (you can see it live on ESPN2). The team touched down in Seattle yesterday evening to begin a busy couple weeks of training, matches, and publicity.
When Chelsea last visited the States in 2009, they swung by the then brand new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas (which is just a few minutes from my house) for a game against Mexican side Club America.
Unfortunately, the Blues’ U.S. tour this time around is geographically peripheral with stops in Seattle, New York City, Philadelphia, and Miami – locales too far-flung for my schedule and pocketbook this summer. But I’ll still be closely tracking the team’s American adventure, so be sure to check back here regularly for updates.
Chelsea released their tour roster yesterday, which is an exciting mix of youngsters and veterans. I don’t envy DiMatteo’s task of determining a first team from this talented pool. Making his job even more difficult are the major players who will join the tour later (Terry, Torres, Meireles, Cole, and Malouda – due to their post-Euro 2012 rest) and four players not even on the tour since they will be playing in the Olympics (Bertrand, Sturridge, Romeu, and Mata).
Welcome to America, Chelsea! Hope you enjoy your stay and here’s hoping we get to enjoy four Blues victories while you’re here!
Which of Chelsea’s four U.S. pre-season matches are you looking forward to the most?