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Blues are coming

One of the top European football clubs will kick off their American tour against the Sounders FC Saturday.

2009 FA Cup Champions Chelsea FC is coming to Seattle on Saturday to face the Sounders FC in a friendly at Qwest Field.

The West London club has long been known for having charisma and personality on the field, but it didn’t always translate in the record book.

Chelsea has been on quite an upswing in recent years, but won only one First Division title, one FA Cup title and one League Cup between the club’s inception in 1905 and 1997.  Since then, they have won two First Division (Premiership) titles, four FA Cups – including two of the last three years, and three League Cups.  They were also runner-up in the 2008 UEFA Champions League and reached the semifinal earlier this year.

Formed in 1905 when cross-town rival Fulham United declined to play in the recently constructed Stamford Bridge, Chelsea spent many years trying to field a winning side.  They were often known for their big-name purchases and entertaining style, but it wasn’t until 1955 when they won their first championship – the First Division title.  They won the League Cup in 1965 and the FA Cup in 1970, but it would be 50 years between First Division championships.

Russian billionaire oil magnate Roman Abramovich purchased the team in 2003 and they have since become major players in the battle atop the Premiership along with Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

The Blues roster features such world talents as goalkeeper Petr Cech, defenders John Terry and Ashley Cole, midfielders Michael Ballack, Frank Lampard and Michael Essien and forwards Didier Drogba and Nicholas Anelka.

Drogba and Anelka have paired to make a lethal front line, combining for 24 goals last season while Ballack, Lampard and Essien have been a dynamic yet steady midfield.  Add to that the collection of talent in front of top-flight keeper Cech and the reason for Chelsea’s successes is blatantly apparent.

Chelsea were led by current Inter Milan manager Jose Mourinho for their most successful run from 2004-2007, then had three managers over the next two seasons before hiring former AC Milan manager Carlo Ancelotti, who will manage his first game for Chelsea on Saturday.

Kickoff is set for noon on Saturday and a limited number of tickets are still available.

Chelsea’s tour of America will take them to Pasadena, Calif., to face Inter Milan, Baltimore, Md., to face AC Milan and Dallas, Texas, for a meeting with Club America before they return to London for two more preseason games.