Jul 18, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Chelsea FC forward Romelu Lukaku (18) tries to move the ball past Seattle Sounders FC defender Jeff Parke (31) during the 1st half at CenturyLink Field. Chelsea FC defeated Seattle 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE
Nobody was really sure what to expect for a lineup in this one, as Chelsea were without left backs and had some new faces to add to the mix. Roberto Di Matteo stuck with the 4-2-3-1 though, starting team mascot Paulo Ferreira at left back and Marko Marin, Eden Hazard, and Yossi Benayoun in the band of 3. Nathaniel Chalobah at right back was a bit of a surprise, and it's interesting to note that he played there during England's U19 showing recently. David Luiz, Branislav Ivanovic, Josh McEachran, John Obi Mikel, Romelu Lukaku, and Henrique Hilario rounded out the starting 11.
Chelsea would get on the scoreboard very early in this one, as Josh McEachran released Romelu Lukaku who ran over any defenders in his path before he calmly slotted home. Eden Hazard would double the lead minutes later when he burst down the left hand side after Marko Marin headed the ball to his feet and saw his effort deflected into the back of the net. 2-0 Chelsea, and it looked to be an easy win.
Josh McEachran would then make an absolutely awful pass to Fredy Montero, setting him up with an easy crack at goal. Montero would slot it easily beyond the reach of Henrique Hilario, who to be fair had been trying to let the opponents back into the game anyway with several flaps in the previous minutes. Seattle would soon draw level, as Montero would again beat Hilario to find the back of the net. Paulo didn't do Hilario any favors on that one, leaving Montero plenty of space to shoot inside of the 18 yard box. 30 minutes in we were all level.
Chelsea would continue to look dangerous, with Marin and Hazard in particular linking up very well. Both of their speed and dribbling skills were causing headaches for Seattle, and Marin would add the 3rd for Chelsea in short order. Josh McEachran would do his best to make up for the awful error from early on, sliding a beautiful long through ball to the feet of the sprinting Marko Marin. Having seen Hazard get on the score sheet, Marin decided to do exactly the same thing. He'd cut in from the left and bounce one of the defense and into the back of the net in a nearly identical goal to the Chelsea 2nd.
Chelsea would add a 4th before the half, as Marko Marin played Lukaku through on net beautifully. Lukaku would round the keeper and slot home his second of the game, showing exceptional strength and speed yet again. Just like that it was 4-2 Chelsea, and we'd take the game into the break.
Wholesale changes would happen after the half, Jamal Blackman, Sam Hutchinson, Gary Cahill, Michael Essien, Frank Lampard, Ramires, and Kevin De Bruyne would all come on. Romalu Lukaku, Branislav Ivanovic, Paulo Ferreira, and Eden Hazard would be the only holdovers from the first half, and all four would eventually make way in the second half.
The second half started slowly, with the pace visibly reduced in the early going. The 60 minute mark would see the removal of the 4 first half holdovers for George Saville, Lucas Piazon, Todd Kane, and Gael Kakuta. Chelsea didn't produce nearly as many chances in the second half, but Kevin De Bruyne and Todd Kane both managed to have a couple of cracks at the goal. The biggest moment of the half was definitely the introduction of Seattle's Roger Levesque though, as last night was his final appearance before retiring.
That's one preseason game in the books, and there's a number of things to take from it. The transition to attack looked excellent in the first half, but the decision making looked shaky at best. Yossi Benayoun really didn't look like a good fit with the group he played with, as the blazing speed of the rest of our attackers just left him in the dust over on the right flank. It will be interesting to see what Di Matteo does this Sunday, as the Marin/Hazard/Lukaku group in particular looked sensational. It's hard to criticize the defensive shakiness in this one too much, as this was far from our first choice group out there tonight. Hopefully with more training those simple mistakes will work themselves out. We'll do this all again on Sunday. Until then, enjoy the highlights: