Leeds United beat Chelsea 3-0 at Elland Road on Sunday thanks to two American players.
Brenden Aaronson started the carnage in the first half by forcing an error from Edouard Mendy with intense pressure. Tyler Adams made a difference in midfield, and MLS grad Jack Harrison scored the second and third goals by racing through the Blues’ defense.
Thomas Tuchel was banned for this game for his fight with Antonio Conte last week. He may have wished he’d stayed in London by the end.
Leeds started strong against one of their opponents. Within two minutes, Adams took the ball away from Conor Gallagher in the middle of the field. This freed the four fast players at the top of the field.
After only eight minutes, Kalidou Koulibaly got a yellow card for a foul that Aaronson made in the middle of the field.Leeds’ intensity threw Tuchel’s team off balance. Gallagher’s every touch seemed to make Leeds press, but N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic of Chelsea didn’t seem to do that.
Raheem Sterling was a menace in Chelsea’s inside left channel when they could slip past the lines. Cucurella’s pass may have undone Leeds’ backline; Sterling finished well but was offside.
Leeds stopped Chelsea from scoring in the first half, and as Chelsea ran out of ideas, Leeds’ threat rose. Adams, who typically wins loose ball duels, deflected the ball to Rodrigo, who shot wide.
Aaronson chased the ball behind the Leeds captain. With the American pursuing, no Chelsea defender could touch the ball. Mendy learned the hard way. Mendy tried to get the ball out from under his boots after a dummy sent the goalie flying. Others might have given up after the first mistake, but not the New Jersey teen who outworks everyone on the field.
Aaronson crossed the goal line after a right-footed flick. After 20 years without a win over Leeds, fans at Elland Road erupted. And Jesse Marsch was as euphoric as the fans, racing down the touchline like Tuchel did last week against Tottenham, incurring Antonio Conte’s ire.
There was a simmering antagonism between the two benches early on, with Tuchel pushing for Marsch to be booked after a Ruben Loftus-Cheek foul. By halftime, Chelsea’s coach looked too confused to do anything on the sidelines as Leeds’ lead grew.
Jack Harrison, who played at Wake Forest and for NYCFC, had sloppy passing early but made amends with a perfect free kick. Rodrigo’s flick was beyond Mendy’s grasp, giving the club record signing his fourth goal in three outings.
Cucurella and Reece James came close before the 65th minute as Chelsea switched to 4-3-3. Gallagher settled into a more comfortable role, battering the box with late runs that caused Leeds problems. It was odd that he was replaced by Christian Pulisic. He wasn’t as relaxed as his USMNT teammates.
As the Blues searched for a foothold in the game, Daniel James and Harrison had opportunities on the counter. Harrison may have increased the lead if Loftus-Cheek hadn’t sent out a corner.
The combination paid off when James, whose Chelsea counterpart had abandoned him, lofted a cross to the six-yard box. Rodrigo meant to shoot but instead set up Harrison for Tuchel’s joint-heaviest defeat of his career. As if things couldn’t get worse, Koulibaly received a second yellow card for a trip on Joe Gelhardt. Unlike his boss, the centre back won’t play against Leicester next week. Based on today’s results, it wouldn’t be surprising if a couple of visitors lost their spots next week, whether through suspension or otherwise.