Chelsea and Tigres earned opening night wins in the World Series of Soccer exhibitions. Didier Drogba notched the winner for Chelsea volleying home a perfect pass from Shaun Wright Phillips. In the other game, the LA Galaxy were completely overwhelmed by a quality Tigres side 3-0.
Chelsea 1 Suwon 0
Didier Drogba ensured Chelsea continued their winning start to pre-season with the only goal of the game to beat Korean side Suwon Bluewings at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, on Wednesday morning. Drogba left it late, just as Chelsea had done against Club America in northern California on Saturday on the way to a 2-1 victory. This time, the club's leading scorer from last season broke the deadlock in the 80th minute, driving home a Shaun Wright-Phillips cross in front of a crowd of 15,349.
Mourinho kept to his promise of making wholesale changes at half-time, just as he had done in Chelsea's opening pre-season game against the Mexicans. The Portuguese boss had started with captain John Terry in central defence alongside Glen Johnson and with a midfield diamond in front of them, comprising Michael Essien, Frank Lampard alongside Steve Sidwell and Joe Cole at its apex.
Paolo Ferreira, filling in at left-back in the absence of both Ashley Cole and Wayne Bridge, was the only player from the starting line-up to survive into the second half as Mourinho switched to the wing play of Florent Malouda and Arjen Robben supporting lone striker Didier Drogba and Claude Makelele anchoring midfield with Jon Obi Mikel and Shaun Wright-Phillips in front of him.
Essien had hit the crossbar in the first half but Chelsea began the second period in positive fashion, Malouda crossing from deep to find Drogba out wide on the right in the 49th minute. The Ivorian sent in an angled shot that Suwon keeper Kim Dae Hwan parried into the path of Wright-Phillips whose shot was deflected for a corner. Malouda drove in a fierce shot of his own two minutes later that the Korean keeper again chose to parry as Chelsea increased the pressure, before Drogba latched on to a neat through ball along the ground from Wright-Phillips and fired a low shot across Dae Hwan that struck the bottom of the post.
The Korean side finally joined the party when Brazilian striker Eduardo got a sight on goal but blasted high over the bar from the edge of the area. Ferreira was finally substituted in the 70th minute, replaced by Scott Sinclair, and moments later Wright-Phillips again caused problems when he turned and shot right-footed from the corner of the six-yard box, only for Dae Hwan to block yet again at the near post. Wright-Phillips finally carved open the breakthrough, though, with 10 minutes to go as he brought down Mikel's cross from midfield, looked at his options and sent in a curling chip to the back post for Drogba to rifle home.
Tigres 3 LA Galaxy 0
A halftime switch from their old white jerseys to their new dark blue jerseys didn't change the Los Angeles Galaxy's fortunes Tuesday night, as they fell 3-0 to Tigres UANL in the opening match of the World Series of Football at The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy conceded a goals on either side of the halftime whistle and played down a man for the last 26 minutes after Chris Klein was sent off after receiving his second yellow card of the game. Francisco Fonseca, Walter Gaitan and Alejandro Vilalobos each scored for the Mexican side. The game was physical match, with yellow cards outnumbering shots on goal when the final whistle blew. The first half got off to a sluggish start, as the Galaxy struggled to get in sync and Tigres looked like a team in the early stages of their preseason. The first 25 minutes only produced two total shots, one of which found the back of the net.
The goal game in the 11th minute off of a Galaxy turnover. Mexican international Francisco Fonseca pounced on the loose ball and dribbled in on the Galaxy goal. He then rounded Galaxy 'keeper Joe Cannon and tapped home to open the scoring. Fonseca nearly got his second in the 25th minute. Tigres won a free kick on the right flank and Fonseca rose up above everyone to head the curling ball, but his shot bounced wide of the back post. A minute later the Galaxy got their best chance of the half. A good build up through the midfield got the ball onto the boot of Landon Donovan. Donovan looked up and spotted Carlos Pavon at the top of the penalty area and fed him the ball, but the Honduran's left footed effort sailed high of the crossbar.
It was Fonseca who continued to cause the Galaxy defense fits and was nearly lethal again just before the half-hour mark. Sent in behind the Galaxy back four, Fonseca once again found himself one on one with Cannon. This time though, the Galaxy 'keeper charged hard off of his line and slid out to scoop the ball off of Fonseca's boots. That was the last really dangerous chance of the half as play got chippy between the two sides. The yellow cards started to pile up, as each side earned two cautions in the opening 45, three coming after the 30-minute mark.
The second half didn't start brightly for either side, but in the 56th minute, Donovan and the Galaxy nearly equalized. Kelly Gray made a penetrating run with the ball through the heart of the midfield before slipping a ball in to Donovan, who was streaking in behind the back line. Donovan rounded Tigres 'keeper Cirilo Saucedo, but Saucedo recovered in time to get a hand on Donovan's shot and deflect it out for a corner. The Galaxy's chances of a comeback took a serious hit in the 64th minute, when Klein was shown a second yellow card and was sent off. The call was not without controversy, as replays showed Klein might not have actually made contact with a Tigres player.
The red card took the air out of the Galaxy attack, as in the next five minutes the field tilted towards the Galaxy defensive third. The LA rearguard finally cracked in the 72nd minute. Fabian Cubero found Walter Gaitan with a cutting pass, and with Cannon charging off of his line, Gaitan found the back of the net with a cool shot slotted inside the back post. Second half substitute Alan Gordon had a golden opportunity to pull one back for the home side in the 86th minute. Abel Xavier won the ball in the middle of the field and found Gavin Glinton on the left side. Glinton flighted a ball to the back post where Gordon brought the ball under control but missed wide with his close range shot.
Tigres added the dagger blow minutes later. Guillermo Marino fed Alejandro Vilalobos at the top of the 18. Vilalobos turned and shot to the back post, beating Cannon to cap the scoring. Los Angeles will need to bounce back quickly from tonight's loss as they close out the World Series of Football against current FA Cup holders Chelsea FC on Saturday.