DC United

Surprising Chelsea trying to live up to its glittering pedigree

Surprising Chelsea trying to live up to its glittering pedigree

Weekend mornings haven’t been the same since the English Premier League paused its season. The hope is the EPL is back on NBC sometime soon. Until then, NBC Sports Washington is devoting a week of stories to each of the Big 6 clubs in England: Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City. Because we miss the Premier League, too. 

Our first week continues with a look at Chelsea, a Premier League surprise this season but a club which went from a complete afterthought for almost half a century in England to a powerhouse rivaling any in Europe the past 15 years. 

For 49 seasons, Chelsea was the little brother of English soccer. 

From 1956 to 2004, the Blues watched every major rival win a championship. Arsenal won the top division six times, Everton four, Tottenham and Manchester City once each. And Liverpool (13) and Manchester United (12) were in a class by themselves. 

Calling Chelsea an afterthought would be generous in those years after they won the title in 1955. They were relegated from the top flight four times. They once spent five years in the second division from 1979 to 1984. Other than a handful of F.A. Cup wins, there wasn't much to go on. 

That’s all changed now in the 21st century. Little brother has become one of the gleaming jewels of European soccer. Chelsea has won the Premier League five times since nabbing that first one in the 2004-05 season. 

This year’s club surprised before the ongoing coronavirus pandemic halted play in March, but the young squad has a lot to live up to. An unlikely fourth in the standings with possibly nine games to go if the games restart this summer, that’s not going to satisfy many Chelsea fans in west London - and around the world - going forward. 

How could it? The memories of five Premier League championships still ring across the grounds and in 2012 Chelsea won the Champions League for the only time in club history. Legends like John Terry and Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard, now the Blues’ manager, set the bar high for rising players like midfielder Mason Mount and American wonderkid Christian Pulisic, among others, during a youth movement. 

Chelsea won the Premier League by eight points in 2004-05 and 2005-06 under Jose Mourinho and again in 2014-15 during Mourinho's second stint. They needed every single point in 2009-10 when a devastating 8-0 season -finale win over Wigan Athletic secured their third championship in six years. But it was close with Manchester United finishing just one single point behind in the standings.

After an ugly 10th place finish in 2016 that led to Mourinho's second departure, Chelsea returned with another championship in the 2016-17 season, which was Terry's last. In the past 15 seasons of English football, Chelsea and Manchester United lead the way with five championships each. Not a bad way to end a drought of almost a half century.  

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FC Dallas-Vancouver Whitecaps match postponed after eight positive coronavirus tests

FC Dallas-Vancouver Whitecaps match postponed after eight positive coronavirus tests

The MLS is Back Tournament match between FC Dallas and the Vancouver Whitecaps set for Thursday has been postponed after eight players tested positive for the coronavirus.

The group-stage game will be rescheduled, the league said Saturday.

FC Dallas announced earlier this week that six players had tested positive for the virus upon arrival in Florida for the tournament. The entire team was quarantined.

Two Whitecaps players tested positive, forcing the team to remain in Canada, the league said. Additional tests were negative, but the team had to push back travel until Monday.

RELATED: WHEN ARE SPORTS RETURNING FROM CORONAVIRUS

The MLS is Back Tournament is set to open on Wednesday with a match between Orlando City and expansion Inter Miami.

The league's 26 teams will be sequestered in hotels for the duration of the monthlong tournament played without fans at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World.

MLS shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic on March 12 after teams had each played two games.

FC Dallas said all players and staff tested negative for the coronavirus before leaving for the tournament on last Saturday. Upon arrival, two players tested positive. Subsequent tests found four more players infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

"In consultation with MLS medical officials, FC Dallas took proactive steps to isolate the newly affected players as well as all FC Dallas players and staff in Orlando out of an abundance of caution. All members of the club delegation are following MLS health and safety protocols and will remain quarantined in their hotel rooms pending the results of further COVID-19 testing," the team said in a statement.

The names of the players were not released.

The league said no other team was in contact with the FC Dallas delegation. League protocol requires players and staff to be tested every two days upon arrival in Florida.

FC Dallas will now open the tournament on July 15 against the Seattle Sounders, while the Whitecaps will play the San Jose Earthquakes later that day.

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MLS food for players in Orlando bubble might not be what you expect

MLS food for players in Orlando bubble might not be what you expect

With teams arriving in Orlando for the beginning of the MLS is Back Tournament that starts on July 8, players are excited for the opportunity to once again take the field and compete. However, there is one detail that doesn't have many too excited: the food.

On Tuesday, Toronto FC defender Omar Gonzalez, who played collegiately at the University of Maryland, shared a picture of the meal he was given in Orlando. Despite the description sounding appetizing, the sandwich looked anything but that, and it was accompanied by a rather unimpressive side of potatoes and a banana.

Gonzalez's teammate Eriq Zavaleta also shared a picture of his meal, which somehow looked even worse.

The photos are reminiscent of the infamous Fyre Fest disaster that promised fine-dining cuisine and instead provided guests with bread and a piece of cheese. The MLS meals don't look that bad, but it is surprising to see the athletes being given such unappetizing meals as they prepare for a month-plus of intense soccer games.

RELATED: HOW TO WATCH DC UNITED IN MLS IS BACK TOURNAMENT

The MLS is Back Tournament that begins on July 8 will mimic a FIFA World Cup with teams competing in group and knockout round stages with the chance to earn a spot 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League and win prize money. Hopefully, the events on the field go smoother than what is happening in the kitchen.

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