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July 17, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Highlights from Chelsea FC’s press conference Tuesday with manager Roberto Di Matteo, midfielder Marko Marin

chelsea presser.jpgChelsea FC held its pregame press conference Tuesday with manager Roberto Di Matteo (center) and new midfielder Marko Marin (left) available. Di Matteo fielded most of the questions and some highlights are posted below:

(On the growth of MLS…) “The perception we have in Europe about MLS is that it is improving — the fact that you sign players at a younger age now and (have) very good players that have a proven track record in European leagues. Also I tend to watch a bit more MLS games now sometimes because of the players that are involved.”

(Why come to the U.S. as opposed to somewhere else?) “Well, the club has been here before; they had a very good experience. As I’ve said, for preseason too, you look at the training facilities that you have, the opposition that you are able to play in the friendly games, the preseason games, and also to expand our fan base and go closer to our fans around the world. Last year, we were in Asia. This year we are in the USA. From what people tell me, it was great three years ago, and these first three days I have to say have been very, very good. We talked about the training facilities. I went to see the stadium twice; it’s a beautiful. And it gives us an opportunity to challenge ourselves against a very good MLS team, as well.”

(Do you know much about the Sounders support?) “It’s one of the best supported MLS teams in the States. It’s got 34,000 season-ticket holders as far I’m aware. It’s a great fan base. They’re crazy about soccer here in Seattle. I know about the fans walking all together to the stadium, which is a great gesture I think. It’s very nice. And the manager is one of the best managers around in MLS and in the United States. They have some good players. We obviously know Eddie Johnson a bit better than the others, but (Mauro Rosales) and (Alvaro) Fernandez, they’ve got some good players. It’ll be interesting to play them.”

(Would it be surprising to play in a road atmosphere instead of mostly Chelsea fans?) “I’m not sure how it’s going to be tomorrow. I guess it’s probably going to be a mixture of fans. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of Sounders supporters there. I just hope it’s going to be a good atmosphere.”

(How much do you know about the Sounders?) “I’ve watched them a little bit. I know their system of play, their style of play. … I obviously followed the game they had against the Red Bulls on Sunday, so we have information about the Sounders.”

More notes after the jump…

* * *

Di Matteo was asked about Chelsea’s interest in Brazilian midfielder Oscar, but aside from praising the player’s talent and noting he’s not a member of the club, he didn’t want to speak much of the subject.

The manager did express that he was glad John Terry‘s racism trial is in the past and the team can focus on soccer.

Di Matteo noted that midfielder Florent Malouda has joined the team, but the four others (Terry, Ashley Cole, Fernando Torres, Raul Meireles) aren’t expected in until the team heads to the East Coast.

He added that he doesn’t feel different now that the “interim” label has been removed from his position and couldn’t pick whether Wednesday’s games (against a team) or the MLS All-Star Game (against a collection of stars) would be more difficult.

Lastly, asked what Chelsea’s tour can do for American soccer, Di Matteo said he hopes it enhances the country’s appetite for the game.

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