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Seattle Sounders

Seattle Sounders

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In their minds, Sounders FC felt it hung in pretty well against a "world class all-star team," as goalkeeper Kasey Keller put it.The scoreboard might have said otherwise, as Chelsea cruised to a 2-0 win Saturday in a friendly at Qwest Field.

But there were a few positives to take from the match.One, a crowd of 65,289 basked in the sunshine and the buzz of a nationally-televised match against an English Premier League traditional power, awe-struck by the stars that took the field for Chelsea but clearly supportive of the local boys in Rave Green.

It was the largest crowd ever at a Sounders FC or former Sounders match and the third-largest to see a soccer match in the city.Two, 19 of Seattle's 21 players used in the game had never faced Chelsea before, and can now say that they took the field against one of the world's best teams.

Sounders FC played its regulars for a full half before coach Sigi Schmid made wholesale substitutions throughout the second half.Three, Seattle had its chances to score.

More chances than Chelsea.

And while it could have come apart trailing by two goals at halftime, the subs kept the game respectable."It was definitely a Seattle Sounders home game," Schmid said afterward.

"Fans were coming out to see Chelsea as well, but people were there to support our team, and that's tremendous because you don't get that all the time in the States when a team comes to visit ...

Obviously the result is something we would liked to have turned out a little bit better, but I was proud of the way we played and certainly proud of the support we got."The outcome of the match didn't matter much, but Sounders FC was outplayed at home like it hasn't been all season.

The first half was a clinic on how to play with the elites of soccer.Chelsea's most recognized stars such as Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack, Nicolas Anelka and John Terry started and played well, but Chelsea fans might have witnessed the arrival of a new hero — 19-year-old striker Daniel Sturridge.

The youngster recently acquired from Manchester City made his Chelsea debut with a goal and an assist.In the 12th minute, Sturridge streaked up the middle toward the goal and took Florent Malouda's pass in stride.

He stopped after controlling the ball, letting Seattle's Tyrone Marshall overrun the play, and curled a shot past Keller."As the game got on, we gained a little bit of space and there was great passes from the midfield," Sturridge said."They get paid the big bucks, and that's why," Marshall said.The next goal was even easier.

Sturridge passed the ball on the wing to Anelka, who had time to loft a cross to the middle.

Lampard was waiting directly in front of the goal and fired home a shot from near the penalty spot."There's a lesson to be learned," Seattle forward Freddie Ljungberg said.

"There's a lot of players that never played against a quality team like Chelsea before.

If you look at Chelsea, when they go for a finish or a burst, they go 110 percent and they really concentrate on their finishing.

Stuff like that we can learn from."Where defensively Sounders FC was beaten twice, its offense created chances.

Best among those were a header in front from defender Zach Scott in the 57th minute that went wide, off Ljungberg's corner kick, and Sanna Nyassi's chip from the left side that slid over the top of the goal in the 74th.Ljungberg, playing against many names he knew well from his EPL days at Arsenal, took a shot on a long free kick that just went over the goal in the 32nd minute.

Had he found the net, it would have been a TV highlight."It sends definitely a message out that we can play so good against Chelsea," Ljungberg said.

"That was very important for the European crowd to see that."José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or [email protected]
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