By TIM BOOTH, Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — There are still plenty of big names on Chelsea's roster keeping young Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku from getting significant playing time for the European champions.
Scoring a pair of goals in the Blues' first match since winning the Champions League crown was a pretty good statement that Lukaku is ready to contribute plenty more.
"I feel the pressure, but you play for Chelsea, there's pressure and we won, so that's the most important thing," Lukaku said. "The goals were good for me, but the most important thing is the team. I enjoyed it a lot."
Lukaku scored twice in the first half, newcomers Eden Hazard and Marko Marin scored deflected goals, and Chelsea opened its American tour with a 4-2 win over the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday night.
One of just two strikers currently part of Chelsea's tour roster, Lukaku muscled his way to a goal in the third minute of the international exhibition then scored his second goal in the final minute of the first half. It was the first match for Chelsea since the Blues beat Bayern Munich in May to win their first Champions League title.
"We were looking to (have) a good workout, good possession, some good combination play and slowly integrate new players and also see some of our younger talents that we have in the club that will hopefully be the future of the club," Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo said.
Seattle's Fredy Montero scored a pair of goals in the first half, but the Sounders missed a number of good scoring chances early and had few offensive opportunities in the second half.
Lukaku scored his first goal on a pass from Josh McEachran, one of the youngsters getting a chance to play for Di Matteo while some Chelsea regulars are either resting from the European Championships or going to the Olympics. Lukaku forced his way past defender Jeff Parke to score his first then added another in the 44th minute as Seattle's defense continued to leak.
Chelsea's two biggest offseason signings — thus far — also scored in the first half with Hazard, coming over from Lille, scoring in the 11th minute after his shot deflected off defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and past goalkeeper Bryan Meredith. Marin, who picked up a first-half assist, also scored in the 40th minute when his shot deflected off Parke.
Lukaku is stuck behind Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge in Chelsea's pecking order of strikers, but his large frame might make him a potential replacement for Didier Drogba in the future.
"I'm very keen to see him perform for us and then we'll see what happens," Di Matteo said. "But it's good to see he's a danger, he scores goals and that's what a striker has to do."
Unlike last year's 7-0 rout at the hands of Manchester United, the Sounders made this match respectable and at times controlled the offensive chances. Alvaro Fernandez and Eddie Johnson both had missed headers off corner kicks and Fernandez's open shot in the 24th minute was punched wide by Henrique Hilario.
Montero's first goal came off a poor giveaway by McEachran in the back end. Montero patiently waited and beat Hilario in the 14th minute, the first goal scored by Seattle in any of its previous exhibitions against European powers Chelsea, FC Barcelona and Man United. Montero made it a pair in the 32nd minute when Mauro Rosales' cross-field pass fell to Montero's feet and his left-footed shot beat Hilario again.
"We did good. We scored two goals against a tough team to play," Montero said. "Obviously we wanted to win the game but at the end of the day we need to be focusing on MLS."
Chelsea brought on regulars Frank Lampard, Michael Essien, Ramires and Gary Cahill after halftime and controlled more of the play but was unable to tack on additional goals.
The Blues were without five of their biggest names for the first stop of a four-game American tour that will feature the first soccer match at the new Yankee Stadium against Paris Saint-Germain, a match with the MLS All-Stars in Philadelphia and a final exhibition versus AC Milan in Miami.
Torres, who helped Spain win the European Championship earlier this month, and Portugal's Raul Meireles will join the tour later, along with captain John Terry. Flourent Malouda and Ashley Cole joined the team in Seattle with the other three expected to arrive on the East Coast.
Wednesday night was the final match for retiring Seattle midfielder Roger Levesque. The fan-favorite spent nine seasons with the USL-1 Sounders and the MLS Sounders and entered in the 66th minute to a standing ovation from the more than 53,000 in attendance.
Levesque was lauded on a walk around the field after the game and spent nearly 45 minutes signing autographs for fans.
"For me it was just insane. I was just happy to run around and try and get into the mix and make something happen," Levesque said.
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