Chelsea continue their pre-season preparations with a friendly against Major League Soccer expansion side Charlotte FC in the early hours of Thursday morning.
The Blues kicked off their summer with a 2-1 win over Mexican giants Club America last week, with goals from Timo Werner and Mason Mount either side of a Reece James own goal delivering the goods at Allegiant Stadium, Nevada.
Next up is a trip to Bank of America Stadium for a historic night where Charlotte FC, who became Major League Soccer‘s 28th club this season, will host a European giant for the first time.
Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels later this week.
Despite pulling together a group of entirely new players and switching head coaches midway through this season, CLTFC have been going well, sitting eighth in the Eastern Conference, just a point below the MLS Cup Playoff places.
They’ll be keen to give Chelsea a stern test on their own patch in what will be their second-highest attended game yet. Charlotte FC broke the MLS attendance record in their first-ever home match against the LA Galaxy in March in front of 74,479 fans.
Here is everything to know about the friendly…
Young Brazilian forward Vinicius Mello is still out as he recovers from surgery on his foot, while full-back Adam Armour has a knee injury.
Key centre-back Guman Corujo managed 83 minutes against Inter Miami at the weekend following a thigh injury but will likely be given a lighter load in this friendly.
CLTFC captain Christian Fuchs will be the club’s standout player to Chelsea fans after his part in Leicester City’s historic Premier League title win.
Midfielders N’Golo Kante and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have remained in England due to their vaccination status. The duo played alongside a number of Under-23 stars in a 4-2 win over Boreham Wood last week.
All eyes will be on USMNT star Christian Pulisic as he once again plays in front of an American crowd.
Armando Broja, Billy Gilmour, Tino Anjorin and Harvey Vale have all been dismissed from the squad, with a handful of permanent and loan moves lined up.
Chelsea’s pre-season tour squad
Kepa Arrizabalaga, Marcus Bettinelli, Edouard Mendy, Teddy Sharman-Lowe, Marcos Alonso, Ethan Ampadu, Cesar Azpilicueta, Trevoh Chalobah, Ben Chilwell, Levi Colwill, Reece James, Kenedy, Emerson Palmieri, Malang Sarr, Thiago Silva, Ross Barkley, Conor Gallagher, Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic, Mason Mount, Michy Batshuayi, Kai Havertz, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Christian Pulisic, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech
Chelsea obviously come into this match as heavy favourites.
Even taking their superior talent level aside, this is a group that has been together much longer than Charlotte FC, who will also have more than one eye on their battle to make the Playoffs.
All that said, Lattanzio’s side play attractive football and certainly know how to break teams open, so while they may not win in front of a bumper crowd, they should help serve up an entertaining spectacle.
Prediction: Charlotte FC 1-3 Chelsea