So I just (ok, well, a couple hours ago) got back from Chelsea's practice at CenturyLink Field. It was great seeing the team in person for the first time. From a soccer (fine, football) standpoint, there really wasn't much to report. The team went through a very standard practice. Warm-ups, passing drills, half-field scrimmage, shooting drills, etc. Perhaps the biggest surprise to me was that Florent Malouda was actually there. He didn't exactly look like the happiest person on the pitch, but he was most definitely there training with the team. Other than that, all the expected players were there. The only players I didn't recognize were what I assume were some academy players. I guess the main reason for this post is to share with you some poorly shot video and pictures that I took while there. Don't expect too much, these were shot with my phone. It's mainly to satiate your appetite if you are severely deprived of recent Chelsea footage! On to some bullet points!
(Although first I have to share this picture with 4 of my favorite players at once! Iva, Luiz, Piazon, and Ramires!)
David Luiz was his usual awesome self. He looks really comfortable on the ball and had some great touches in the scrimmage portion (one of the grainy videos has a nice backheel and some other touches). See the video at the end of this for a funny PK situation at the end of practice.
- Romelu Lukaku has massive potential (as if you didn't already know this). He's capable of some very powerful shots, while also showing more finesse than I thought was in his repertoire. He didn't appear as comfortable on the ball as I had hoped, but this could just be due to it being so early in the year. He had a few nice touches but when compared to Lampard or Hazard he was a bit lacking. That said, I was still very impressed with his overall showing.
- I didn't get to see Eden Hazard as much as I had hoped. He mostly trained on the opposite side of the pitch. From what I did see in the scrimmage, he's very comfortable with the ball at his feet (duh), and is capable of some great passes.
- Frank Lampard is just a class player and person all-around. He had a solid training overall, but what most impressed me was how he handled himself after the practice. He was the first player to start signing autographs for the fans, and he was also the last to leave. There were way more fans there than I thought there would be, and he stayed out signing well after the rest of the team had gone inside.
- Michael Essien looks like he might be starting to get a little healthier. Now, this was only a training, and I didn't get to see much of him, but he looked smoother than I remember seeing him last year.
- Lucas Piazon is still quite raw, but there are certainly flashes of brilliance. During the shooting drills he had a nasty habit of sailing it over the bar. That said, he had moments in the scrimmage where I could see a potential star. He's still at least two years out from becoming a heavy contributor though (in my opinion), I don't know if he's consistent enough to become a part of the first XI for a little while.
I think that pretty much sums it up. If I can think of anything else I'll be sure to add it to the post. Here are some links to the photo album and youtube page with the videos:
David Luiz messing around on a PK (via gokangs06)
(Edit: this video didn't embed as well as hoped. It looks better if you make it HD and full screen)
Hope you enjoyed! I know it wasn't the most informative post in the world, but hopefully you were able to get at least something out of it that you liked. It was a great night, and I'm very thankful that Chelsea opened up the practice for us fans. It was great getting a first-hand look at the team we all love in action!