By MATT GASCHK
SEATTLE – A 4-2 loss has never left a crowd more fulfilled than the 53,309 in attendance at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday night that saw the Sounders fall to UEFA Champions League and FA Cup title holders Chelsea.
The friendly match was filled with action in the first half as the Sounders fell behind 2-0 in the first 11 minutes, then pulled back to 2-2 only to have Chelsea pounce to take the 4-2 lead before halftime.
Most important was the response of that crowd of 53,309 when the final whistle sounded and they had the chance to acknowledge the ten seasons Roger Levesque played in Seattle.
"If you know Roger you know why he gets a standing ovation. He's an endearing individual, he has a smile on his face … he just enjoys life," Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. "That's the kind of guy, that's just an infectious personality and he endears himself to people because of who he is."
The 31-year-old multi-purpose player played his final match on Wednesday night, retiring to pursue his MBA at the University of Washington. He entered the match in the 66th minute to an ovation, then was left on the field for over an hour after the final whistle signing autographs, taking photos and talking with the fans that had supported him over the past ten seasons.
"It brought me right back to the first day in 2009, walking out to the field," Levesque said. "The game was great. The excitement built as the goals started going in. It was a great night."
On the field, Romelu Lukaku got Chelsea out to a quick start with a goal in the third minute.
Josh McEachran fed Lukaku at midfield and Lukaku carried it into the box where he cut past Jeff Parke and shot past Bryan Meredith for the goal.
They added to that in the 11th minute when newly acquired Eden Hazard raced up the left side, cut back to his right foot and shot from inside the box. The shot took a deflection and left the diving Meredith with no chance for the save and Chelsea held the 2-0 lead.
That's when Seattle stormed back on the boots of Fredy Montero.
In the 14th minute, Montero got the Sounders on the board when he picked off an errant pass, leaving him all alone in front of the goal. He took a touch, then blasted a shot past Henrique Hilario for the goal, pulling Seattle back to a one-goal deficit at 2-1.
The Sounders remained on the attack for much of the rest of the first half and finally found the equalizer in the 32nd minute when Mauro Rosales recovered a ball against the sideline, then sent a cross to Montero on the right side. He cut to his left foot, then blasted it inside the far post for his second goal of the night, evening the tally at 2-2.
"We scored two goals against a tough team to play," Montero said. "We were able to fight a close match."
The Premiership side didn't let that momentum carry into the second half though.
In the 40th minute, another newcomer, Marko Marin scored on an assist from McEachran, again benefitting from a deflection to take a 3-2 lead.
Then Lukaku added another, streaking up the middle and getting behind the Sounders defense to take a pass from Marin at midfield. He dribbled around Meredith to the left, then put it into the open net past Meredith's outstretched arm for his second goal of the night.
"Maybe it's the exuberance of the game and we were having some success going forward, so maybe we did that and that resulted in the two late goals," Schmid said. "But the two early goals it's just not being sharp, not being as ready as maybe we needed to be."
The second-half also had plenty of action, but the greatest ovations came when Levesque checked into the game in the 65th minute and when Steve Zakuani subbed on in the 82nd minute.
Chelsea will go on to face Paris St.-Germain, the MLS All-Stars and AC Milan to conclude their pre-season tour of America while the Sounders FC will take the weekend off, then return to league action on Saturday, July 28 against the Colorado Rapids.
Sounders FC – Fredy Montero 14; Fredy Montero (Mauro Rosales) 32.
Chelsea FC – Romelu Lukaku (Josh McEachran) 3; Eden Hazard (John Obi Mikel) 11; Marko Marin (Josh McEachran) 40; Romelu Lukaku (Marko Marin) 44.
Sounders FC – None.
Chelsea FC – None.
Sounders FC – Bryan Meredith (Josh Ford 46), Zach Scott (Adam Johansson 71), Jeff Parke (Patrick Ianni 61), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez (Marc Burch 71), Mauro Rosales (Andy Rose 61), Brad Evans (Sammy Ochoa 71), Osvaldo Alonso (Steve Zakuani 82), Alvaro Fernandez (Servando Carrasco 75), Fredy Montero (Mike Seamon 82), Eddie Johnson (Roger Levesque 65).
Chelsea FC – Henrique Hilario (Jamal Blackman 46), Branislav Ivanovic (Todd Kane 63), David Luiz (Gary Cahill 46), Paulo Ferreira (George Saville 63), Nathaniel Chalobah (Sam Hutchinson 46), John Obi Mikel (Michael Essien 46), Eden Hazard (Lucas Piazon 63), Josh McEachran (Frank Lampard 46), Marko Marin (Devin De Bruyne 46), Yossi Benayoun (Ramires 46), Romelu Lukaku (Gael Kakuta 63).