All-Star: Di Matteo admits Chelsea lack sharpness on tour
PHILADELPHIA — Another All-Star Game, and another loss for Chelsea FC.
After the 1-0 setback in 2006 on a solitary goal by Dwayne De Rosario, which left José Mourinho bitter at the time, the 2012 defeat wasn't any easier to digest for Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo.
"We’re disappointed by the result," Di Matteo said in his postgame press conference. "We’re always looking to win. We want to win. And we were a little bit stretched in the second half. But I made quite a few changes as well in the second half and so the team was a little bit maybe not as together as in the first half when they were a bit more settled."
The reigning European champions are now 1-1-1 on their US tour and it was apparent the preseason training was catching up to the players. Even MLS All-Star manager Ben Olsen admitted noticing Chelsea getting "leggy" after the halftime break.
“The MLS team looked very sharp," Di Matteo said. "Obviously they’re in season and they were sharper than us. For us it was important for us to get players on the pitch and get players as many minutes as possible.
"But I think we have to look to improve a little bit the way we play as well," Di Matteo continued. "I was happy with the play in the first half and some in the second half. It was a good game for us, a good test.”
What may also be equally disconcerting for Chelsea fans is how few scoring chances were created. Big teenage striker Romelu Lukaku was virtually cancelled out against the MLS All-Stars.
In his postgame comments, Di Matteo explained it by the overall lack of sharpness, but he also admitted the team needs to do more to support Lukaku and find a way to penetrate the opposition's defense. That responsibility falls to newcomers Eden Hazard and Marko Marin.
But it wasn't all about Chelsea's deficiencies. The Blues manager tipped his cap to the MLS All-Stars and gave a special mention to two players in particular.
"They have some good players and it was a good representation of the league," Di Matteo said. "I’ve seen [Osvaldo] Alonso now twice. He played against us with Seattle Sounders and he’s an interesting player. [Dwayne] De Rosario did well as well. So a few interesting players."