FAMILIAR FACES FOR SOUNDERS LEGEND
Marko Marin's performance against Seattle Sounders which yielded a goal and an assist was the first sight many Chelsea fans had of the summer signing from Germany. One spectator inside the stadium however was much more familiar with the attacking midfielder.
Kasey Keller (pictured above left) was the Sounders keeper the last time Chelsea visited but since retiring in 2011 he regularly works on their games in a media role. Although he was off-duty on Wednesday night he was still a keen spectator and watched Marin with interest.
As well as playing in England with Millwall, Leicester, Tottenham, Southampton and Fulham, Keller spent two years in Germany at Borussia Monchengladbach.
'I played with Marko Marin when he came through from the youth team at Gladbach,' he tells the official Chelsea website.
'Watching Wednesday's game it was good to see him step out and do what he does best which is to take people on one-on-one and he was looking very dangerous from the beginning. I obviously wish him all the success with this move.
'There was no question that he was highly rated from early on, there were just some question marks over his size but he has filled out because when he was 18 he was about 95 pounds. He is a good explosive little player and we will see how he adapts to Premier League football. I think he will continue to get stronger.'
Against the Sounders, Marin on several occasions cut in from the left flank, looking for the chance to shoot which was eventually the way he scored his goal, and Keller confirms as a goalkeeper he faced a few such efforts in training.
'He would often come inside but he would play out on the right, or in the middle, or play on the left and come in and come out, whichever was best for the team.'
Another Chelsea player who caught the former US international's eye during the game was double goalscorer Romelu Lukaku.
'You are looking for a replacement for Didier Drogba and he looks like he could fill that role if he continues to mature and do a job beyond his size,' Keller says.
As can be seen from the picture at the top, Marin is not the only person on Chelsea's tour with whom Keller is acquainted. Club ambassador Graeme Le Saux was able to say hello before the match.
'I was on loan at Southampton from Spurs for a month before I left for Germany and we played together there,' Keller explains.
'We played against each other a few times as well and it was good seeing him again. It is a cool role he has in that ambassadorship and he is the perfect person for that kind of job.'
Le Saux had yet to rejoin Chelsea when our manager Roberto Di Matteo scored with a tremendous drive past Keller in a fifth-round FA Cup tie at Leicester in 1997, on the way to winning the competition (although it needed a replay to overcome the Foxes), and the keeper was on the end of a few defeats at our hands, but it is his first visit to Stamford Bridge, another FA Cup tie, that naturally sticks in his memory.
The match was replay against Millwall and with the scores level after extra-time, penalties followed.
'Seattle Sounders' biggest rival is Portland Timbers and John Spencer was until recently the manager there,' says Keller. 'I always mention to him how I saved the fifth penalty.'