In his latest blog for the official Chelsea website, Stephen Rea explains what the mood is like over in the USA ahead of our visit next week...
It’s hard to believe that Chelsea are coming to the USA next week. It has appeared out of nowhere, faster than a Eden Hazard sprint.
On both sides of the Atlantic, fans have been focused for months on the enthralling race to secure a spot in the top four. It seemed destined to go to the wire - then the Blues wrapped up our place on Sunday with a 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge.
Of course there is a semi-final in the Europa League tonight, but with just three days between that and the Watford fixture, supporters Stateside have hardly had a chance to draw breath. For many of us, the focus has mainly been on our impending trip to Massachusetts to see the Blues next Wednesday, when we take on the New England Revolution.
It is two months shy of three years since Chelsea were last on these shores. Blues supporters here have been spoiled since 2004, the same year I emigrated to the US. Indeed, three years between visits is the joint-longest gap there has been in the last 15 years, as the club toured here in 2009 and didn’t return until 2012.
You can sense the excitement ratcheting up on this side of the Pond. Social media posts have been increasing, texts have become more frequent, messaging apps have heated up, as fans check in with each other ahead of hitting Boston.
Blues followers in America are a loose and expansive family, but also an inclusive and welcoming one. It’s one of the greatest things about travelling to different parts of the country to see the players in the flesh. Obviously we do it because it’s a chance to see the team on the pitch with our own eyes, rather than cheering them on from thousands of miles away on a different continent.
But we also travel over land and sea (not Leicester?) to meet up with other true Blues. I have become friends with supporters I have met on post and pre-season tours since moving to the States, fellow fans I only ever see at these contests: expats jetting in from Denver and Iowa, Americans flying in from Kansas and Texas.
The USA is so huge and diverse that it can often seem like 50 different countries. But when fans descend on the Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, we will all be cheering on Chelsea with one voice.