Chelsea’s John Terry celebrates after scoring a goal in 2007 at Home Depot Center.
It could be a special game; Chelsea didn’t meet the Italian team in the European Champions League this season, making the game the club’s first reunion with the Special One and former Manager Jose Mourinho since he (ahem) left.
“We’ll look forward to re-engaging with Jose at that game,” Chelsea Chief Executive Peter Kenyon told me this morning from New York where a press conference was scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Pacific.
“We managed to miss him in the draw in the Champions League,” he added. “This will also be the first time there’s competitive contact between the two clubs.”
Tickets go on sale today at www.worldfootballchallenge.com (I’m told the link will go live later today, BTW).
The game is part of a nationally televised, four-team, six-city round robin tournament that also includes Club America and AC Milan in what’s being called the World Football Challenge.
“We’re looking forward to playing in the Rose Bowl, which is one of the iconic stages (in sport),” said
Here’s the full schedule:
Sunday, July 19
Club America vs. FC Internazionale Milano at Stanford Stadium (Palo Alto, Calif.)
4 p.m. ESPN2
Tuesday, July 21
Chelsea FC vs. FC Internazionale Milano at the Rose Bowl
8 p.m. ESPN2
Wednesday, July 22
AC Milan vs. Club America at the Georgia Dome (Atlanta)
4 p.m. EST on ESPN2
Friday, July 24
AC Milan vs. Chelsea FC at M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore)
5 p.m. ESPN
Sunday, July 26
AC Milan vs. FC Internazionale Milano at Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
2 p.m. ESPN2
Sunday, July 26
Chelsea FC vs. Club America at Cowboy Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
4 p.m. ESPN2
Yes, the idea is to make money. And yes, in a sense it’s taking money out of MLS teams’ pockets.
But let’s face it, a lot of Eurosnobs don’t go to MLS games anyway. And what soccer fan is going to pass up the opportunity to see the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack, Ronaldinho, Kak, Zlatan Ibrahimovich, Andrea Pirlo, Pavel Pardo, Guillermo Ochoa and Adriano. Beckham who?
It’s the fifth time in six years Chelsea have played preseason games in the U.S., Kenyon said. That has prompted Chelsea’s U.S. fan base to more than double in the last three years and is now well over two million supporters strong, Kenyon said.
How much hunger is there here for European soccer? Last May’s UEFA Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester United was seen by a record 1.1 million viewers in the U.S.
Chelsea last played in Southern California two years ago in the World Series of Football at Home Depot Center. Fans will remember the game for a crunching tackle by Steve Sidwell on David Beckham that exacerbated the injury he was carrying when he arrived from Real Madrid and helped ruin his and the Galaxy’s season.