Chelsea vs. Sounders: Blues coming to Seattle
Chelsea FC of the English Premier League will make its fifth visit to Seattle this summer for a July 18 friendly against Sounders FC.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Welcome back, Chelsea FC.
The decorated English Premier League club will make its fifth visit to Seattle this summer for an international friendly against Sounders FC, the teams announced Monday. The July 18 match at CenturyLink Field is three years to the day after Chelsea's 2-0 win here in 2009.
The friendly is included in 18-game season-ticket packages. Game tickets go on sale June 4, but seats can be reserved by ordering four-game packages that also include MLS home games against the reigning league champion Los Angeles Galaxy, and Cascadia rivals Portland and Vancouver.
Chelsea is the only English team remaining in the 2011-12 UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, but has had a disappointing EPL season. It is tied for fifth, well behind the leaders.
Overall, the Blues have won four league titles, six FA Cups and four League Cups.
"We're delighted to be returning to Seattle to kick off our summer tour in the U.S.," said Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay in a news release. "The right preseason preparation is vital to us, and there's no better place to start. Seattle's facilities are second to none, and the Sounders are quality opponents who enjoy great support."
Reports of Chelsea's fifth return to Seattle first surfaced four weeks ago.
For some Sounders fans, having that relationship and history with one of the world's top clubs is unique. Others are Chelsea fatigued.
"I understand it, since they've been here a few times and the fans have seen them," said Gary Wright, Sounders FC's vice president of business operations, "but they might have a different look. My hunch is they're going to sign some high-profile players."
One player Chelsea is rumored to have interest in is Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Sounders may have had limited options for a summer friendly. As a result of the UEFA European Championships and, to a lesser extent, the Summer Olympics in London, it's believed that fewer European clubs will go on U.S. tours. Even fewer are willing to come to the West Coast.
Seattle also confirmed that it will also open all seats up at CenturyLink Field for Chelsea and for three other matches in the four-game ticket package — Los Angeles (Aug. 5), Vancouver (Aug. 18) and Portland (Oct. 7).
Those are arguably the four biggest home games of the year.
Wright said the team was motivated to continue offering a multi-game package after the success of a similar package last season. The highlight was the 2011 regular-season finale, when 64,140 came to watch Kasey Keller's send-off before retirement.
"I think that set the bar for us," Wright said.
• No final decision has been made whether to play the friendly on CenturyLink's new FieldTurf or a temporary grass surface. The Sounders prefer to play on FieldTurf, but Chelsea wants to hire a new manager before agreeing, according to Wright.
• Sounders FC settled for a 1-1 tie in its first MLS Reserve League game Monday in Vancouver. Seattle midfielder Alex Caskey opened the scoring in the 72nd minute, but the Whitecaps' Carlyle Mitchell tied it in stoppage time.
|Make it five|
|Chelsea FC is will be making its fifth trip to Seattle this summer for a July 18 friendly:|