Cech’s replacement Asmir Begovic endured a nightmare debut as Chelsea kicked off their US tour in humbling fashion with 4-2 defeat against the a second string New York Red Bulls team, with a 16-year-old high school kid scoring the winning goal.
Unsurprisingly, given that the team had only trained for just over a week and manager Jose Mourinho said they would take to the pitch tired, such has been the intensity of the pre-season, several players looked short of sharpness and out of sorts.
But it was Begovic who was most exposed just minutes into his debut, having come on for Thibaut Courtois at half time, conceding four goals in what was a virtually a new team for the second half. With almost his first touch he fumbled a cross which allowed Franklin Castellanos a clear strike on gaol and the former Stoke goalkeeper had John Terry to thank for clearing off the line on 50 minutes.
However, just two minutes later, Terry under-hit a back pass and Begovic failed to claim the ball, allowing Castellanos to score on what turned out to be a chastening evening for Chelsea. It got worse for Begovic, as a header from 16-year-old schoolboy Tyler Adams on 70 minutes, as the Red Bulls went 2-1 up and he was again to blame when they eventually added the fourth on 76 minutes.
In fact Chelsea imminent second bid for John Stones may be pinging its way over to Everton as we speak, given the quality of some of the defending on show from Chelsea: Terry’s back pass, Nemanja Matic’s unconvincing flick which led to the Red Bulls third and Ramires timid clearance for the fourth goal all under scrutiny.
What will make the defeat hurt even more for Blues fans was the fact that this should not have been much a contest for Chelsea, despite their lack of training. The Red Bulls had a US Open Cup tie here against Philadelphia Union on Wednesday night, so Chelsea faced a shadow squad made up largely of reserves and youth team players.
Next up for Chelsea is a match against French champions PSG before they meet Spanish champions Barcelona. After Thursday’s defeat to the Red Bulls, I expect a much improved performance against PSG.