The 2010 Dallas Cup is well underway now, with two days of action completed, and it’s been a mixed bag for Chelsea. An impressive opening afternoon victory over the host team was followed Monday evening by a disappointing reverse at the hands of Costa Rican opposition, meaning everything is still to play for on Wednesday.
As the marquee visitor to the competition in the Super Group, Chelsea were chosen for prime billing as the competition kicked off on Sunday at Pizza Hut Park, the lavish 22,000 capacity stadium of MLS side FC Dallas. It was the host’s Under-18 side that provided the opposition, and put up a stern test against a team which mixed youth and reserve team players, with Dermot Drummy intent on sharing around playing time for the week.
On what was a rather windy afternoon in South Texas, the action got underway at a slower pace than we’re accustomed to seeing from the young Blues, but they made the better of the early going and took the lead through Daniel Mills Pappoe, who converted a chance from a corner. Daniel has often posed a threat in overseas tournaments whilst representing Chelsea – famously winning the top goalscorer award at one in Holland – and continued that form with a close range finish past the replacement goalkeeper Zach Downes, who had replaced the injured Jaime Ibarra.
The giant centre-back was needed at the other end to clear off the line as the hosts regrouped and looked threatening, particularly through the highly-rated Ruben Luna, but there were no further goals before the break. In the second half, Luna continued to cause problems, but it was Chelsea who scored the second, with Uruguayan forward Jhon Pirez, on as a sub, showing nice close control before finishing from outside the area. Pirez joined Chelsea in the summer of 2008 but due to FIFA regulations concerning the international movement of Under-18s, he won’t be able to come to England before March 2011. For now, he is free to play in friendly action, and wasted no time in impressing.
A third goal arrived from Daniel Philliskirk, but the late stages were made nervous when Jonathan Top and then Luna both scored in quick succession. As Dallas pushed for an equaliser against a tired and jetlagged opponent, they were caught out late and Jacopo Sala sealed the points late on.
Team: Heimann, Ahamed (Saville), Mills Pappoe, Strickland (Ince), Deen-Conteh, Kaby (Kane), Philliskirk (c) (Rodgers), B.Clifford (Lalkovic), Gokhan Tore, Sala, Mitrovic (Pirez)
On Monday, Drummy rotated the personnel around and gave starts to Sam Walker, Ben Sampayo, Anton Rodgers, Milan Lalkovic, Bobby Devyne and Pirez, but the changes didn’t have a great effect, as the boys were upset and lost 0-1 to LD Alajuelense. A scrappy first half was woken by a more direct and keen Chelsea after the restart, and the introduction of Rohan Ince and Gokhan Tore helped set a better tone, but both wasted chances before seeing a long free kick curl past everyone and bounce in at Walker’s far post. The Costa Ricans had already hit the post and in the intense heat, probably deserved their victory.
Team: Walker, Ahamed, Mills Pappoe, Strickland, Sampayo, Kaby, Philliskirk (c), Rodgers, Devyne, Lalkovic, Pirez
Subs Used: Ince, Gokhan Tore, Sala, Kane, Mitrovic, Deen-Conteh
It means that Wednesday’s game against Mexican side CF Monterrey is a must-win, and they will also hope that FC Dallas are able to help them out later tonight by getting a result against the same opposition. How seriously Chelsea are taking the competition will determine team news for that one, with Danny Stenning and Archange Nkumu yet to see action. Giving the two schoolboys a start would be great for their development, but might also be a tougher ask against undoubtedly talented opposition.
We shall see, as CFCnet continues its coverage of the 31st Dallas Cup throughout the week. You can also keep up to date with news on Twitter by following @chelseayouth and @dallascup.
(Photography provided by Craig Marcho).
(Report updated as per wonderful feedback from Beth in comments section)