RENTON, Wash. — The last time Chelsea played a match, they were busy making history. For the first time in club history, they won the UEFA Champions League.
Central defender Gary Cahill was arguably the English side's best defender on that day and he vowed that the Blues will feed off that conquest when he spoke to reporters following the club's first practice on Sunday evening at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center.
“We can use it as a springboard,” Cahill said of last season's finish, which also included an FA Cup triumph. “It was strange the first half of the season. It didn’t go to plan. The second half was fantastic and winning two cups by the end of the season was amazing. We need to push on from that. It’s nice to be involved in all the competitions like we was and hopefully we can compete in the Premier League as well.”
Chelsea's slow start in the English Premier League last season cost them a shot at the title, but their participation in the 2012 Herbalife World Football Challenge is aimed at helping them avoid a similar fate in 2012-13.
Seattle is the first stop on a summer tour that will take Chelsea from coast to coast of the United States with three matches in the WFC and a match against the MLS All-Stars in Philadelphia on July 25.
“[The games] are important, but mainly the fitness and getting back to match sharpenss and making the right decisions,” Cahill said when asked about the goals of the US tour. “The group we’ve got, every time you take the field you want to win. That’s just the mentality. I think we want to win the games, but there will be a lot of changes and the most important things are that we’re injury free and that we play well and get fitness up.”
If they want to get a result against the Sounders, Cahill & Co. will have to do it without five players who featured at the recently concluded European Championship. Club officials confirmed on Sunday that Ashley Cole, John Terry, Florent Malouda, Raul Meireles and Fernando Torres were highly unlikely to feature in Wednesday’s match against Seattle. They will be joining their Chelsea teammates later in their North American tour.
It had previously been announced the Juan Mata (Spain), Daniel Sturridge (Great Britain), Ryan Bertrand (Great Britain) and Oriol Romeau (Spain) would not be participating in the tour as all four are competing in the Summer Olympics.
Of course, the defending UEFA Champions League winners will still have plenty of star power. Petr Cech, David Luiz, Frank Lampard and John Mikel Obi are just some of the star players who participated in Sunday's session.
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.