Preview: Seattle face Euro champs Chelsea in WFC opener
The Seattle Sounders and Chelsea FC will be celebrating an anniversary of sorts when they meet on Wednesday night in the opener of the 2012 Herbalife World Football Challenge (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
The Sounders will face the reigning European champions exactly three years ago to the day that they faced off for the first time in 2009, a 2-0 win for the English side behind goals from Frank Lampard and Daniel Sturridge.
The meeting at CenturyLink Field pits the domestic cup champions of the USA and England. The Sounders are three-time Open Cup champions, while Chelsea captured their seventh FA Cup with a victory over Liverpool in May.
The match is also the first for Chelsea since they won their first ever UEFA Champions League title against Bayern Munich on May 19, defeating the German side in their home stadium in Germany. The new version of the Chelsea squad includes three high-profile additions: Eden Hazard, Marko Marin and Kevin De Bruyne.
The Sounders are in the midst of their MLS season, coming off a 2-2 tie against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday afternoon. They currently sit in third place in the Western Conference on 31 points (8-5-7 record) and are unbeaten in their last four league matches and have also advanced to their fourth straight US Open Cup final.
Seattle fans will use the occasion to celebrate veteran Roger Levesque, who previously announced he would be retiring following the WFC match.
Wednesday's match is Chelsea's first of three matches in the World Football Challenge. They next travel to New York to face Paris Saint-Germain on July 22 in the first soccer match held at the new Yankee Stadium. They will also participate in the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday, July 25 before battling AC Milan at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday, July 28.
The Sounders return to MLS action with a trip to Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Saturday, July 28 (9 p.m. ET).