Chelsea players happy to be in St. Louis -

Chelsea players happy to be in St. Louis

( Sports) -- One week removed from winning the Europa League title and two days since landing in St. Louis, Chelsea was finally able to greet its fans in the United States at a training session at Busch Stadium on Wednesday.

Before taking to the field in preparation for Thursday’s friendly match against Manchester City, Juan Mata and teammate Branislav Ivanovic addressed the media, consisting of local, national and international members, for almost 15 minutes.

“The reception from the city and from the people of St. Louis was amazing,” Mata said. “It’s good to see the people wearing Chelsea shirts and I think we’re really happy to be here and just try to do our best in the game and try to win.”

When asked what he knew about St. Louis before arriving on Monday, Mata responded: “To be honest, not very much.”

“Yesterday, I learned that in the 1950s or 60s the United States soccer team had six or seven players from here,” he added. “In history, it's a city that liked football and that's why we are here.”

Mata added that he has heard of the Cardinals, who normally occupy Busch Stadium, but admitted he doesn’t follow baseball.

The message of this trip is clear: to promote football.

“It’s a pleasure to be here,” Ivanovic said. “It’s great to promote football. The game will be at a high level because we’re professional.”

That’s good news for the crowd that will be in attendance to witness history take place at Busch Stadium. It will be the first non-baseball sporting event played inside the new stadium.

It will also be the fifth meeting between the clubs since August 12. The two teams will meet again on Saturday in New York City at Yankee Stadium.

“Man City has a lot of players with quality midfielders and offensive players,” Mata said. “It's hard to play against them. We know each other really well.”

Chelsea won’t be sporting a ‘B’ squad for the match either. Aside from the injured John Terry and the absence of Ryan Bertrand, the fans might see the everyday players such as Frank Lampard, Fernando Torres, and David Luiz. (Click here to view the full roster)

“It is not the same because if you lose these games you don't lose three points, but when we represent Chelsea what we want is to win no matter if it's a friendly game or not,” Mata said.

Lampard, along with Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole, will return to England for friendly matches against Ireland and Brazil after the game on Thursday.

The game will start at 7:30 p.m., but fans can enjoy a pep rally at Kiener Plaza beginning at 4 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

Powered by Frankly