That One Time I Went to a Chelsea FC Open Practice

Ivanovic passes to Chalobah during Chelsea FC's open practice in Seattle.

Things I've accomplished in the last 48 hours include going to work for 8 hours, partaking in a 16 hour road trip, eating 2 meals, and drinking untold amounts of caffeinated drinks. I may or may not have slept there for a couple hours somewhere as well. Oh, and I watched the defending Champions of Europe in their first open practice of the season!

I'm not sure I have it in me to write a coherent narrative (or anything coherent, for that matter), but I saw a few interesting things that I think could be worthwhile to share. The lead photo is just about the only usable photo that my iPhone took tonight - I'd need much better equipment (and skills) to snap anything decent - so if you have any of your own to share, feel free to include/link them in the comments.*

*UPDATE: FanPost from 'UW2010'

To the bullet mobile!

But first, props to the hundreds, if not thousands of fans who came out to support the team. We filled about a third of the East-side lower tier of Seahawks Stadium. Also thanks to the Chelsea staff who were handing out free flags, hats, and magazines. Swaaaaaag!

  • Practice ran from 6:30pm to 7:30pm, local time. Ross Turnbull was out there ahead of everybody else, working 1-on-1 with Christophe Lollichon. Frank Lampard stayed after to sign autographs. David Luiz did so as well, but I'm not entirely sure when.
  • The biggest entrance cheers were for Lampard, Sideshow, and Branislav Ivanovic. A group of Serbians next to me yelled something funny at Bane and got a smile and a thumbs up in response. Dr. Eva got a nice reception as well (even a song) and someone asked Gigi Salmon if she'd like a beer as she was preparing to do her report for ChelseaTV. Oh, and Robbie Di Matteo, of course. Everybody loves Robbie!
  • The overall tone of practice was fun, with occasional bursts of high intensity & frustration at mistakes. Lollichon came across as very strict early on, especially when it came to Jamal Blackman but then joked around with Petr Cech & Hilario later on. Di Matteo looked authoritative, yet personable throughout, often talking to individual players and yelling out instructions/encouragement.
  • Jamal Blackman is VERY tall. Romelu Lukaku is Doctor Manhattan HUGE.
  • 4 main parts to the hour: Warmup, ball skills (monkey in the middle), small field scrimmage, shooting/free kick practice. Goalkeepers trained separately from the rest of the squad, save for the scrimmage when they rotated the three non-Turnbull goalkeepers. Ross himself disappeared once the actual practice started. Precursor to a move or just something to do with his sucktitude?
  • Florent Malouda (oh hello!) practiced alone (well, with a coach) on the sidelines. Could this be a precursor to a move or just something to do with his surprise appearance?
  • I did not see much of the ball skills routine as they conducted that at the other end of the field. The goalkeepers were much closer and it was fun to watch the increasingly complicated drills that Lollichon had them set up. At the end of it all, they (plus, of course, David Luiz, because why not?) wound down with a bit of crossbar challenge. Hilario lost, but escaped "punishment" thanks to some wayward penalty shooting by the rest.
  • Here's how the scrimmage teams lined up: Orange: GK - Saville, Cahill, Hutchinson, Kane - Essien, Lampard - Kakuta, de Bruyne, Ramires - Piazon (sub. Bamford); Gold/Navy: GK - Ferreira, Luiz, Ivanovic, Chalobah - Mikel, McEachran - Marin, Hazard, Benayoun - Lukaku
  • Orange team took the lead through a KDB long ranger, before Lukaku and McEachran took well-worked goals for the gold/navy. KDB then popped up again with another long range effort. Despite his two goals, De Bruyne looked a little haphazard out there and wasn't linking up well at all. Early days, obviously.
  • While the final score was 2-2, the gold/navy team got better and better as the game went on. Hazard & Marin in particular made for a wonderful combination and showed very good understanding already. McEachran displayed several flashes of skill, while Lukaku was active and constantly calling for the ball. Sideshow was his usual self, at one point taking on half the orange team before they got annoyed and shoved him off the ball.
  • Best tackle of the game goes to Cahill for his last ditch cruncher on Lukaku. Saville (iirc) also had a clearing header off the line.
In lieu of a proper conclusion...yey CHELSEA! FOOTBALL! THEY'RE BACK!!! So happy.
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