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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Chelsea lost in America

It was not so good after all. Chelsea's galaxy of super players were outshone at Toyota Park by the best of America's Major League as they lost 1-0 on Saturday night.

In fact, it was little more than an exercise encounter for the London giants and it gave manager Jose Mourinho the opportunity to see his new signings in action while also trying out two formations.

However, the Portuguese coach never likes losing and he would not have liked the unfamiliarity of defeat, with Dwayne de Rosario hitting the winner.

As we said, Mourinho paired strikers Andriy Shevchenko and Didier Drogba together in attack, as well as Michael Ballack and Frank Lampard in the centre of midfield.

He also handed starts to Wayne Bridge, who was sent to Fulham on loan last season, and Shaun Wright-Phillips, who was omitted from England's World Cup squad after falling out of favour at Chelsea.

The Americans looked the more threatening in front of goal early on without testing Carlo Cudicini too often.

Despite that, they came to life in the 16th minute when the lively Wright-Philips attempted to send Drogba through on goal only for Jimmy Conrad to pull him down five yards outside the box.

It's fair to say that free-kick specialists Ballack and Lampard stood over the ball and it was the Englishman, who struck the ball low towards the bottom far corner but Troy Perkins was equal to it, saving by his post.

Striker Drogba did have the ball in the back of the net from Ballack's perfectly-weighted throughball in the 28th minute but the linesman had his flag aloft much to the embarrassment of the two people who ran the full length of the touchline with big "goal" banners.

Brian Ching then got in between Paulo Ferreira and Cudicini. However, could not clip the ball into the empty goal.

Chris Albright should have put the home side ahead just five minutes from the break. The winger got behind Bridge but with just Cudicini to beat, he clipped the ball just wide of the far upright.

Wright-Phillips then nipped the ball past goalkeeper Perkins and then pulled the ball back towards Shevchenko but the Ukrainian was denied his first Chelsea goal by Facundo Erpen's intervention.

Mourinho reverted back to one out-and-out striker after the break in Salomon Kalou, with Shevchenko and Drogba both making way.

Mikel John Obi also made his debut coming on for Ballack alongside newly-introduced wingers Joe Cole and Arjen Robben.

And Erpen almost gifted Chelsea the lead after the break when he steered the ball past his own goalkeeper towards the goal but Bobby Boswell saved his blushes by clearing the ball off the line.

A worrying sight for Mourinho was Cole hobbling off after just four minutes of his introduction with an ankle problem.

Chelsea's new-look defence, with Ricardo Carvalho also replacing Ferreira, were given a few anxious moments after the break.

Captain John Terry again proved his worth when he threw himself in front of Ronnie O'Brien's goal-bound strike after 59 minutes.

There was little the defenders could do to prevent the Americans from taking the lead in the 70th minute when De Rosario fired past Hilario, on moments earlier for Cudicini, from the edge of the area. Summer signing Hilario seemed slow to react.

The blue team battled to the end and Joe Cannon saved from Terry late on and Jimmy Smith and Robben headed wide.

Cannon then saved from Carvalho's point-blank shot in the dying seconds to spark wild celebrations from the home team.



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