IVANOVIC: READY TO FACE THE CROWD
It is easy to see why Chelsea are keen on early pre-season preparations in Seattle and with the opening tour game later this evening local time, Branislav Ivanovic has been speaking about some of the reasons why.
The Blues played the first match of a US tour in the city back in 2004 having completed just one friendly game at Oxford at the start of Jose Mourinho's reign, and in 2009 we kicked off the summer preparations against Seattle Sounders with Carlo Ancelotti in charge. Both subsequent seasons ended with a league championship win and an additional cup captured.
Not only are the training facilities in Seattle exemplary and the climate favourable, a big crowd at the matches is near enough guaranteed in the American city most in-love with the sport.
An attendance of 30,504 watched the Blues beat Celtic in 2004 and a record 65,289 were there for a match against the local side three years ago. A similar attendance is on the cards tonight.
'It is great when you play a friendly game in a full stadium, it is really what you need at that moment,' says Ivanovic.
'It makes a difference to the game and it is a great opportunity for us to prepare ourselves better for the season.'
The Serbian defender played the second-half of the 2-0 win over Sounders on our last visit and a similar length of time on the field for each player is anticipated tonight. The MLS league is mid-season which means opponents in peak physical condition, increasing the test for the Chelsea players.
'We don't know yet the programme for how long we will play but any minutes on the pitch is great now,' says Ivanovic who his chomping at the bit to getting playing again.
'I played two games for the national team after the end of the season but it is always difficult to play after the summer break, but we have been working hard in the last 10 days and we hope we are ready for the beginning. The pre-season has to be tough for us to start the season well.
'It is very nice to be in Seattle again. It is great for us to do the pre-season here. Although it is so far from Europe you have everything you need for the pre-season and the football is improving every year here.'
Live text coverage of the match, which kicks-off 6.30pm local time, 2.30am UK time, will be available here. Please note this is a different page to the one used during the season.