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Originally published Wednesday, February 18, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Sounders FC match with Chelsea confirmed

Chelsea FC, a top English Premier League club, will play Sounders FC in a friendly at Qwest Field on July 18, the Seattle club announced Tuesday.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Latest from the Sounders FC blog

Chelsea FC, one of the most storied soccer franchises in Europe, will visit Qwest Field on July 18 for a friendly against Seattle Sounders FC, the team announced Tuesday.

Chelsea, known in soccer circles as "The Blues," features forward Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast, vice captain Frank Lampard of England and midfielder Michael Ballack of Germany. The English Premier League club has played in Seattle four times, including as recently as 2004, when it defeated Celtic 4-2 at Qwest Field.

This summer's game will kick off at noon and will be televised live by ESPN2. Only Sounders FC season-ticket holders now can get tickets for the match, but an individual game sale will be announced this spring.

Sounders FC has sold 19,800 season tickets for its upcoming inaugural Major League Soccer season.

"This will be unlike any international game ever played in the Pacific Northwest," Sounders FC majority owner Joe Roth said in a statement from the club. "Chelsea is one of the top clubs in the world, and they are playing the home team, our Sounders FC, backed by our loyal supporters. The atmosphere that afternoon will be incredible."

Tickets sales for the game will be expanded to include the stadium's upper bowl.

Seattle has a history of drawing large crowds for international friendlies this decade.

Chelsea won back-to-back EPL championships in 2004-2005 and 2005-2006.

"We are delighted to be opening our preseason preparations in Seattle," Peter Kenyon, chief executive of Chelsea, said. "It is a fantastic city, and we have great memories of our time there in the summer of 2004 which went on to be a great season for us. The Sounders FC will provide us with a real test and we are happy that a sporting city like Seattle now has its own new soccer franchise as it is important for the development of the game in the United States.

"We will be bringing a full-strength squad so it should be a great game."

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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