European Champions League winners Chelsea were to try to move forward from the roller coaster of recent months when their preseason US tour started last night with a friendly against the Seattle Sounders.
The short offseason has nearly matched the commotion of the entire 2011-2012 season for Chelsea. From striker Didier Drogba leaving to play in China, to manager Roberto Di Matteo having the interim tag removed, to John Terry being cleared of racially abusing an opponent, it has been a busy couple of months at Stamford Bridge.
Throw in the signings of midfielders Eden Hazard from LOSC Lille Metropole and Marko Marin from Werder Bremen, and it has not left much time for the Blues to fully appreciate what they accomplished at the end of last season.
“The belief was always there. Last season, besides from not competing as much as we could have done in the Premier League, it was a fantastic season,” Chelsea defender Gary Cahill said. “It was a great season and hopefully we can continue that into this year.”
Just how rare was what Chelsea accomplished? Thanks to Drogba’s clinching shootout penalty-kick in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich, Chelsea became the first English club since Liverpool in 1981 to win a domestic cup title and the championship of Europe in the same season, without winning the league title. Manchester United won the FA Cup, Premier League and Champions League in 1999.
Winning two cups by the end of the season was amazing, Cahill said.
“So we need to push on from that. It’s nice to be involved in all the competitions as we [were] and hopefully we can compete more in the Premier League this season as well,” he said.
Chelsea would be without five of their biggest names for the first stop of a four-game US tour that is to feature the first soccer match at the new Yankee Stadium against Paris Saint-Germain, a match with the MLS All-Stars in Philadelphia and rounding off with a match against AC Milan in Miami.
Spanish stars Fernando Torres and Raul Meireles, who helped Spain win the European Championship earlier this month, are set to join the tour later. As are French midfielder Flourent Malouda and the English defensive duo of Ashley Cole and Terry.
It was just last Friday that Terry was cleared of racially abusing an opponent. He was accused by Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand of using racial and obscene language during a Premier League match in October. While Terry was cleared in the courts, he still may face punishment from the English Football Association after it concludes its own investigation.
Even Ferdinand could receive punishment after both he and Terry admitted during the court case to using obscene language during the Premier League match that led to the trial.
It is unclear when the five players will join the tour, although they are expected to play at some point in the US tour.
Meanwhile, striker Daniel Sturridge (Britain), defender Ryan Bertrand (Britain) and midfielder Juan Mata (Spain) are playing for their respective countries at the Olympics. That creates an opportunity for some younger players to impress Di Matteo ahead of Chelsea’s Premier League opener on Aug. 19 at Wigan.
“Hopefully, I can make my mark and impress [Roberto],” said 19-year-old midfielder Josh McEachran, who already has 22 appearances for the Blues.