"This will be unlike any international game ever played in the Pacific Northwest," Sounders majority owner Joe Roth said through a press release. "Chelsea is one of the top clubs in the world, and they are playing the home team – our Sounders FC – backed by our loyal supporters. The atmosphere that afternoon will be incredible."
This will be Chelsea's fourth visit to Seattle. In 1967, the Blues beat a Seattle area amateur team, 5-0, at Memorial Stadium. In 1977, they were shut out by the original North American Soccer League Sounders, 2-0, at the Kingdome. In 2004, they defeated Scottish club Celtic, 4-2, at Qwest Field.
Since then, however, Chelsea has raised its status among the top clubs in the world by winning the English Premier League championships of 2004-05 and 2005-06, the 2007 FA Cup and Carling Cups of 2005 and 2007. The Blues have finished second in the past two EPL seasons and were runners-up in the 2008 UEFA Championship League.
Their roster includes captain John Terry and midfielder Frank Lumpart, both members of the English national team, along with midfielder Michael Ballack of Germany, striker Didier Droba of the Ivory Coast, and midfielder Deco of Portugal.
The friendly will be part of preseason training for Chelsea. But will come near the middle of the Sounders' inaugural Major League Soccer season, which opens March 19 when the New York Red Bulls visit.
"We are delighted to be opening our preseason in Seattle," Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon said through the press release. "…We will be bringing a full-strength squad, so it should be a great game."
The match is included as part of the Sounders' season ticket package. The club reports that 19,800 season tickets already have been sold.
Individual game tickets will go on sale in spring. And unlike Sounders' MLS games, the upper deck of Qwest Field will be open for the Chelsea visit, creating a capacity of 67,000.
The game will be televised on ESPN2.