SEATTLE – There are lessons to be learned – or perhaps reinforced – against the best teams in the world.
For the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday night in the first game of the Herbalife World Football Challenge, Chelsea instructed a painful course in “Why midfield turnovers are bad.” It’s really that simple, and it told the story of the Blues’ 4-2 win in front of 53,309 fans at CenturyLink Field.
“Defensively we got caught napping on counterattacks and quick turnovers. Our transition wasn’t very good,” Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid said afterwards. “A couple of individual mistakes – we got manhandled on the first goal, we turn over a ball sillily on the one goal, we get caught pushed up on the other goal when we’re pushed up on the other side of the field.
“Those are things we know we can’t do. Maybe it’s the exuberance of the game.”
That exuberance came in part because Seattle finally scored. Much like last season’s 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester United, the Sounders often found time and space moving forward. Unlike last summer, they finished a couple of those chances off.
WATCH: Montero's 1st goal vs. Chelsea
Seattle did their damage off of turnovers and hustle. The first goal came after Fredy Montero picked off a lazy Joshua McEachran outlet, then coolly slotted past Chelsea goalkeeper Henrique Hilario.
“As a player you have to always be looking for a mistake,” Montero offered, describing the first goal. “I was there when I got the ball from the defender and I just tried to look for the goalie and scored a goal.”
Montero leveled the game at 2-2 just minutes later, after a poor Chelsea clearance and a failure to close down Mauro Rosales gave the midfielder time to pick Montero out at the far side of the area. The Colombian took a touch and finished to the back post, sending the crowd – 90 percent of whom were in Rave Green – into a frenzy.
But then the door shut. Seattle kept generating chances, and kept sending them wide, or high, or into Hilario’s waiting arms. It gave Chelsea the time they needed to right the ship.
And then when they saw chances to punish Seattle’s mistakes, they didn’t miss.
“The quality is… we always say that’s why the value of the teams is drastically different,” Schmid explained.
That’s another lesson reinforced. But the ultimate one is that there are more meaningful games left to play.
“We did good, I think. We scored two goals against a tough team to play,” a sanguine Montero said. “Obviously we did want to win the game, but at the end of the day we need to be focused on MLS. I just think we look forward with what we need to do better.”