United Might Host Chelsea

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 13, 2005

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., June 12 -- D.C. United is in serious negotiations to play English Premier League champion Chelsea in late July at RFK Stadium, United officials confirmed Sunday.

In what would be the most high-profile match in the club's nine-year history, United would face the London-based team July 28 as part of Chelsea's proposed three-game, preseason tour of the United States.

Chelsea, which last month won its first English title in 50 years, would also play here at Giants Stadium against AC Milan and in Chicago or Foxboro, Mass., possibly against Milan.

United officials didn't want to discuss the possible matchup, citing the sensitivity of the contract talks and the necessary scheduling change required to accommodate the game. D.C. is scheduled to host Real Salt Lake that night.

United has played renowned foreign clubs before -- most notably Tottenham Hotspur (twice), Newcastle, Leeds and Nottingham Forest from England, Vasco da Gama of Brazil and Pumas of Mexico -- but never an opponent of such caliber.

Chelsea ran away with the Premier League championship, registering a 29-1-8 record to finish 12 points ahead of Arsenal and 18 in front of Manchester United, and won the English League Cup tournament for the first time in seven years. The Blues lost to Liverpool in the European Champions League semifinals.

Their roster includes some of the biggest names in European soccer: Frank Lampard, John Terry and Joe Cole of England; Damien Duff of Ireland; Claude Makelele and William Gallas of France; and Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast. Chelsea's owner, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, has promised to sign three more big-name players this offseason in order to challenge for the European title next year.

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