The newly crowned Champions League holders acknowledge the importance of preseason preparation, with Gourlay praising the "incredibly supportive" atmosphere un the United States.As Chelsea prepares to defend its conquest of the 2011/12 Champions League trophy as well as leading the charge towards more domestic bliss, the Blues have touched down in the United States hoping their future success starts here.
Chelsea CEO Ron Gourlay is conscious of the importance that a good preseason has on his players, and he acknowleged that the financial gain obtained by the Londoners pales in comparison to the level of physical and mental preparation that can be gained in North America.
"The U.S. is undoubtedly the best place where we can prepare," said Gourlay to Goal.com via conference call. "The opposition is as strong as we want it to be, whether they be European clubs or MLS clubs, who are getting better all the time."
Gourlay praised Seattle, a venue which has been a staple of Chelsea's American visits in recent years, noting that the Sounders "have fabulous facilities" and that their fanbase "has been incredibly supportive and respective. It's special for us."
On the topic of Major League Soccer, Gourlay praised the league's growth, noting that its increased notoriety around the world solidifies its reputation of increased quality.
"I think it's certainly improving. Back in the UK, awareness of these clubs has increased exponentially [...] The average fan in the UK is reasonably aware of the level in MLS," Gourlay stated.
As many have, Gourlay pointed out the arrival of English superstar David Beckham in 2007 as the watershed moment for MLS as an attractive destination for notable talent.
"[Certainly], on the back of David Beckham, a lot more top players have come out here," he said.
Exports, as well as imports have been good for the league as well, as growth has been marked of late with more players signing for Premier League clubs like Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey and Tim Ream, Americans who have all benefitted from MLS in order to continue their careers abroad.
"We see more and more players coming the other way [now]," said Gourlay, who took over his current position at Chelsea in 2009.
Chelsea's CEO also highlighted the opportunity to play in Yankee Stadium, as their clash with PSG will be the first ever soccer game held at the Bronx venue, calling the Yankees "an iconic sporting organization" with global notoriety" and labelling the chance to be part of the inaugural football match "fabulous" for the club.
Lastly, on the topic of the global economy woes that have hindered the current transfer market, (Chelsea themselves have only splashed serious cash on Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard) Gourlay was quick to highlight Chelsea's success thanks to their savvy purchasing strategy.
"Investing money into the team doesn't always work because international players need time to settle in, we've learned that. But we've also won very quickly as we have  domestic trophies [since 2003] and now we've added the Champions League."
"To expand your team's brand you have to be successful on the field as well as off the field."
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