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Sounders bested 4-2 by Chelsea FC in international friendly
Fredy Montero scores twice for Seattle, which sends veteran Roger Levesque into retirement with entertaining match against English Premier League power.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Buckets of goals.
An emotional send-off for a local favorite.
The season's biggest crowd at CenturyLink Field.
Sounders FC's international friendly Wednesday against Chelsea FC, the reigning club champion of Europe, had it all as the English visitors earned an entertaining 4-2 win in front of 53,309 fans.
The spectacle wasn't lost on the one of the world's premier teams.
"I know that the fans here in Seattle are crazy about soccer and they created a wonderful atmosphere," said Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo.
The game action was equally enjoyable, at least in a six-goal first half, but for Seattle the most memorable moment came in the 65th minute. That was when veteran Roger Levesque, a Sounder since 2003, entered what would be his last game as a professional.
The 31-year-old announced last week that he would retire after Wednesday's game.
Both teams combined for excitement worthy of the occasion.
Chelsea, playing its first game since winning the UEFA Champions League final in May, raced out to an early lead on goals by forward Romelu Lukaku, who muscled off defender Jeff Parke to finish a chance in the third minute; and midfielder Eden Hazard, who scored off a deflection in the 11th minute.
The Sounders responded impressively through forward Fredy Montero, who took advantage of a Chelsea giveaway and slotted home a cool finish in the 14th minute, then drove a long-range shot past goalkeeper Henrique Hilario in the 32nd minute.
"I wish those goals (came in) MLS," joked Montero, who has one goal in his last eight league games.
Seattle kept the pressure on, and looked more likely to take a halftime lead than its supremely talented opponent, boasting a 10-9 shot advantage at the break.
Chelsea showed its class, however, and scored twice in a five-minute burst to retake the lead for good, starting with a goal on a deflected shot by midfielder Marko Marin in the 40th minute that was followed by a breakaway by Lukaku in the 44th minute after a Sounders turnover.
"Defensively, I think we got caught napping on counterattacks, on quick-cut turnovers," said coach Sigi Schmid. "Our transition wasn't very good and I think there was a couple of individual mistakes. ... There's still a difference (between Chelsea and MLS opposition). The speed of play is a little bit faster, for sure, especially the speed of play from a standpoint of when balls turnover. And then the quality — that's why the value of the teams is drastically different."
The second half didn't replicate the frenzied action of a head-spinning first as neither team scored amid wholesale substitutions.
Chelsea's next stop in a four-game U.S. tour is Sunday in New York against French club Paris Saint-Germain at Yankee Stadium. The Blues also will play the MLS All-Stars (July 25) and AC Milan of Italy (July 28).
Seattle has a bye in the league schedule this weekend and plays its next game on the road at Colorado on July 28.
"Obviously, we wanted to win the game, but at the end of the day we need to be focused on MLS," Montero said, "and think and look forward to what we have to do better."
• The Sounders and artist Dale Chihuly presented a piece of commemorative artwork called the Blue Lion Spire to Chelsea in a pregame ceremony. This has been Seattle's tradition in international friendlies since 2009.
• Chelsea stars Fernando Torres, John Terry and Raul Meireles are expected to join the team on the East Coast. Florent Malouda and Ashley Cole were with the team in Seattle but did not play, while Juan Mata is serving with Spain's Olympic team.
• Seattle midfielder Brad Evans suffered an unspecified injury in the second half and had to be replaced.
• Steve Zakuani entered the game in the 82nd minute for the Sounders. It marked his second game since suffering a leg injury last April.
• The Sounders are 2-5 in international friendlies, but 0-4 against teams from the top leagues in Europe.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.
|Chelsea||4 0 — 4|
|Seattle||2 0 — 2|
Chelsea — Henrique Hilario (Jamal Blackman, 46th), Branislav Ivanovic (George Saville, 64th), David Luiz (Gary Cahill, 46th), Paulo Ferreira (Todd Kane, 64th), Nathaniel Chalobah (Sam Hutchinson, 46th), John Obi Mikel (Michael Essien, 46th), Eden Hazard (Gael Kakuta, 64th), Josh McEachran (Frank Lampard, 46th), Marko Marin (Kevin De Bruyne, 46th), Yossi Benayoun (Ramires, 46th), Romelu Lukaku (Lucas Piazon, 64th).
Seattle — Bryan Meredith (Josh Ford, 46th), Zach Scott (Adam Johansson, 71st), Jeff Parke (Patrick Ianni, 61st), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez (Marc Burch, 71st), Mauro Rosales (Andy Rose, 61st), Brad Evans (Sammy Ochoa, 71st), Osvaldo Alonso (Steve Zakuani, 82nd), Alvaro Fernandez (Servando Carrasco, 75th), Fredy Montero (Mike Seamon, 82nd), Eddie Johnson (Roger Levesque, 65th).
|Chelsea in Seattle|
|The Blues played their fifth game in Seattle in Wednesday's friendly against Sounders FC:|