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Chelsea and perhaps Barcelona to Visit Seattle.

By Steve MacClare, Prost Amerika
January 26, 2009


    We start off with the big story of the week. As exclusively revealed in Prost Amerika, Chelsea FC are to play Sounders FC in a big glamour friendly at Qwest on July 18th, depending on Champions League qualification.. This represents a great coup for Adrian Hanauer, Joe Roth & co. as it shows that they are able and willing to go out and procure the biggest names and the best opponents for the Seattle soccer public. According to a club spokesman, a match against FC Barcelona, currently romping the Spanish league by 15 clear points, is also in the pipeline. This was perhaps more predictable as the whole membership scheme idea which has singled out Sounders FC as a groundbreaking franchise in North American sports history came about after minority shareholder Drew Carey visited the Catalan club who have a similar scheme. He is said to have been so impressed with the idea of the club having democratic input that he insisted on Sounders FC adopting the same model as a precondition for his involvement.

    Some of international football’s top players will be playing here. Chelsea have Frank Lampard and John Terry (England), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast), Deco (Portugal), Nicolas Anelka (France) and Michael Essien (Ghana), all of whom are recognised as being among the top players in their respective positions. If anything, Barcelona’s roster is even more impressive. They have Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon), Xavi (Spain), Thierry Henry (France), the mercurial Lionel Messi (Argentina), Rafael Márquez (Mexico) and Spain’s own Andrés Iniesta.

    Interest in both games is sure to be huge and it is possible that existing Sounders FC season ticket holders will be guaranteed a seat at the games. We’ll report back on that when it is confirmed. Sounders FC themselves are staying tight-lipped, but the sense of excitement in Seattle’s soccer community is palpable.

Sounders in the Community

    On Monday 26th, Sounders FC held the first ever community event of the new franchise when they held a fund raiser for SeattleSCORES. Adrian Hanauer, Sigi Schmid and Kasey Keller answered questions. Keller recounted an interesting episode during his time at Borussia Mönchengladbach which earned him a 3000 fine, which he describes as the best 3000 he ever spent. You can see the full Kelsey Keller story here.

Steve Zakuani adds to European Contingent.

    We reported a couple of weeks ago that there was a large European contingent at Sounders FC. Since then, Steve Zakuani has added. Steve is a DR Congo (formerly Zaire) born Londoner who is described as a winger who runs at the defense, rather than crosses it into the box. He will be on a Generation Adidas contract, reportedly the largest of the year, and so will not take up a Senior roster slot, nor salary cap space. He will take up one of the eight international slots that all MLS teams have. He played in the Arsenal youth set up and was Sounders FC’s first round draft pick in the recent draft held in St Louis. Club GM Adrian Hanauer said of him, Sounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer told the Seattle Times Zakuani has the potential to be a star.

    "He's got all the tools, a great pedigree, grew up in the Arsenal  youth system, obviously had a very good college career and we think has the potential to be very explosive and a very exciting player." He scored 20 goals with the University of Akron this season. His older brother Gabriel Zakuani currently plays with Peterborough United in England's League One having moved from Fulham on New Year’s Day in the current transfer window. Steve moved to London in 1992 when he was four and will celebrate his 21st birthday on February 9th.

Southgate Holds On

    As reported last week, Gareth Southgate, Middlesbrough’s beleaguered manager, faced a difficult FA Cup tie at Championship leaders Wolves. I am happy to tell you that Boro actually pulled off an impressive away win and lives to visit Chelsea next weekend. In the home fixture in October, Chelsea thumped Boro 5-0 in an embarrassingly easy victory, but Chelsea have shown some inconsistent home form this year and it may not be a foregone conclusion. </p>

    In the FA Cup this weekend, Welsh club Swansea provided the only real shock of the round by knocking out holders Portsmouth 2-0 at Fratton Park. Chelsea and Manchester United progressed but Liverpool could only draw 1-1 at home to neighbours Everton and face a reply at Goodison Park. So do Arsenal who drew 0-0 at Wales’ other cup representative Cardiff City, and will meet them again at the Emirates. Both Liverpool and Arsenal are still in the Champions league and the extra fixture represents a minor annoyance to both. Swansea will face Fulham in the next round. Fulham knocked out the last non League team, Kettering Town, 4-2 at Rockingham Road.

Inter Retain Top Spot in Serie A

In Italy, Inter Milan retained their top spot with a 1-0 home win over a toothless Sampdoria.They remain three points ahead of Juventus who beat Fiorentina by the same score. Inter are at Catania next week while Juve visit Udinese. Both opponents are in the top of the lower half of the Serie A table and should present a stiff challenge.


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