Chelsea FC Defeats Sounders, 2-0

More than 65,000 fans at Qwest Field in Seattle enjoy a game featuring one of the elite soccer teams in the world, Chelsea F.C. (July 18, 2009)

Seattle soccer fans were disappointed twice Saturday afternoon. First, when the Sounders were defeated by Chelsea FC 2-0, then when they hit gridlocked Seattle streets after the game.

Fans added to the already-long lines at the new light rail station, making wait times of nearly two hours to get on the trains. Those who drove their own vehicles found bumper-to-bumper traffic an many downtown and SODO-area streets.

But at the game, they did get to watch a great performance by a young player making his debut on the Chelsea team.

Chelsea FC and teenager Daniel Sturridge is already making his mark for the Blues, one exhibition game into his career.

Sturridge scored in the 12th minute and assisted on Frank Lampard's goal later in the first half as the Blues opened their preseason tour of America with a 2-0 win over the Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday.

The 19-year-old Sturridge was making his debut following an offseason move from Manchester City to Stamford Bridge, and he helped make a winner out of new manager Carlo Ancelotti following his offseason move from AC Milan.

Sturridge's goal early in the match quieted the 65,289 fans - most in Seattle green - who turned out to see the first of two international exhibitions the Sounders will host this season.

The match was Chelsea's first on-field test since the Blues beat Everton FC 2-1 in the FA Cup final on May 30. They are using the tour of the United States - which includes matches against Inter Milan, AC Milan and Club America - as their training leading up to the Aug. 15 English Premier League opener against Hull.

To that end, a number of stars either sat or played only one half. Didier Drogba and Michael Essien never took off their warmups, while Ashley Cole, John Terry and Petr Cech were among the Chelsea starters to only a half.

The only Chelsea regular to play the full 90 minutes was Lampard.

Seattle is in the middle of its MLS season and had to balance upcoming matches with trying to make a good showing against the Blues. Goalkeeper Kasey Keller and forward Nate Jaqua only played a half, while Swedish star and former Chelsea nemesis Freddie Ljungberg played into the second half before departing.

The Sounders host Houston in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals on Tuesday. They will play Chicago next Saturday. Seattle played host to Chelsea in 2004 when the Blues faced Celtic in an exhibition match that drew 30,504 and was part of an increased run of international exhibitions in the Pacific Northwest.

But Saturday was the first time those Northwest fans were cheering for their own team. With the blazing rave green of the Sounders easily dwarfing the royal blue of Chelsea's in the stands, the Sounders were clearly the more fit side. Yet the constant sprints by Ljungberg and Fredy Montero into the box didn't translate into many strong scoring opportunities.

Seattle's effort was sloppy overall with poor passing and ball control leading to easy turnovers. Meanwhile, the Blues continually found gaps in Seattle's shaky defense that has cost them during MLS games this season. Sturridge took full advantage in the 12th minute, accepting a pass from Florent Malouda near the top of the box, stopping while Seattle defender Tyrone Marshall slid past and beating Keller with a right-footed strike.

Just over 20 minutes later, Sturridge got Chelsea's next goal started. His pass from near midfield found the foot of Nicolas Anelka running free in the box. Anelka chipped a centering pass that Lampard easily deposited past the helpless Keller.

The second half was a matchup of mostly younger reserves, highlighted by Seattle defender Zach Scott twice saving goals by clearing balls off the goal line after keeper Terry Boss was beaten.