The Seattle Sounders may have fallen 2-0 at the hands of Chelsea in a friendly today, but they certainly made an impression on the big boys from England.
"Today was the best atmosphere I've played in out here for sure," Said Frank Lampard. "I think the game was pretty even really except for the two goals that we scored which is maybe a slight difference in quality from the Premier League to here, but the Seattle team played good football."
Good football indeed, Frank.
Seattle is MLS' newest club, but they sure weren't playing like a newbie on this afternoon. They had their fair share of chances and some more luck with their finishing would have changed the match completely.
Freddie Ljungberg forced two great saves out of Petr Cech in the first half. In the 33rd minute, Ljungberg stepped into a free kick and launched a shot towards the top of the net that probably would have beaten a lesser keeper, but Cech was up to the task.
Just eight minutes later, a rebound found its way to to Ljungberg's foot 16 yards from goal and he again had a crack, but Cech made a fantastic save with his foot.
The Sounders fans roared in approval after both of these chances. They also showed a great sense of humor as well, unveiling a giant banner with a photo of Ljungberg in an Arsenal shirt.
What a gorgeous strike, and hats off to Seattle fans for studying their history.
The afternoon was not just a celebration of Ljungberg's past though, it was a glimpse into the future of football in Seattle. Every Sounder that saw time on the pitch gave a good account of themselves, and that was reflected in the stats.
Seattle racked up 10 total shots, just shy of Chelsea's 13. Those numbers aren't surprising, but the corner kicks are. Seattle earned 11 corners to just three for the Blues.
That's right, the newest MLS team showed a lot of aggression against one of the best club sides in the world. Like I said earlier, the finishing was poor but the gap in quality between the two sides is not as large as you might think.
This was Chelsea's fourth trip to Seattle, and second match at Qwest Field. Last time the Blues graced the Q with their presence, they defeated Celtic in front of just over 30,000 fans.
Against the hometown Sounders, the fans provided an incredible environment. Qwest Field sold out. For an MLS match. 65,289 fans packed the stands, and chanted and sang until the final whistle blew.
You might be tempted to say that Chelsea's presence was the reason behind the sellout, but you'd be wrong. There were only a few small pockets of Chelsea supporters. The vast majority of tickets were held by fans wearing lime green Sounders shirts and waving green and blue scarves.
Even more than the great football on display this afternoon, I was impressed by the fans. I knew that the Sounders were a hot ticket.
After all, they sold well over 20,000 season tickets and have been averaging over 25,000 fans per game in a stadium that functions at less than half capacity for MLS.
But over 65,000 packed into one place to watch an MLS match? That's almost as many fans as were in the Meadowlands for David Beckham's debut back in 2007, and this was a friendly!
Cheers to Seattle. Even though you didn't win, you've assured me that the future of the Beautiful Game is very bright in the US.
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