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Champs Chelsea start US tour in Seattle

SEATTLE -- European Champions League winners Chelsea will try to move forward from the roller coaster of recent months when its preseason American tour begins on Wednesday night with a friendly against the Seattle Sounders.

The short offseason has nearly matched the commotion of the entire 2011-12 season for Chelsea. From striker Didier Drogba leaving to play in China, to manager Roberto Di Matteo having the interim tag removed, to John Terry being cleared of racially abusing an opponent, it's been a busy couple of months at Stamford Bridge.

Throw in the signings of midfielders Eden Hazard from Lille and Marko Marin from Werder Bremen and it hasn't left much time for the Blues to fully appreciate what they accomplished at the end of last season.

“The belief was always there ... Last season, besides from not competing as much as we could have done in the Premier League, it was a fantastic season,” Chelsea defender Gary Cahill said. “It was a great season and hopefully we can continue that into this year.”

Just how rare was what Chelsea accomplished? Thanks to Drogba's clinching shootout penalty kick in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich, Chelsea became the first English club since Liverpool in 1981 to win a domestic cup title and the championship of Europe in the same season, without winning the league title. Manchester United won the FA Cup, Premier League and Champions League in 1999.

Winning two cups by the end of the season was amazing, Cahill said. “So we need to push on from that. It's nice to be involved in all the competitions as we (were) and hopefully we can compete more in the Premier League this season as well.”

Chelsea will be without five of its 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 rounding off with a match against AC Milan in Miami.

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Fans cheer as the Chelsea soccer team takes the field for a practice session in Seattle, Tuesday, July 17. The first step in moving forward from last season's roller coaster record for Chelsea begins this week with the start of their American preseason tour. Chelsea was scheduled to play the Seattle Sounders in a friendly match on Wednesday, July 18. (AP)

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