Sounders deal Ljungberg to Chicago

LjungbergMcBride (ISIphotos.com)   

Photo by ISIphotos.com

By JOSE M. ROMERO

Freddie Ljungberg's days in Seattle were numbered as soon as he was allowed to explore the possibility of going to another team.

Those days in limbo came to an end Friday when the Sounders dealt Ljungberg, Seattle's first designated player, to the Chicago Fire for a conditional draft pick in 2011 or 2012. Ljungberg becomes the Fire's second DP joining Mexican national Nery Castillo, whose signing was announced Thursday.

"I want to start off by saying how proud I am to have been part of the most successful new franchise in MLS history, the Seattle Sounders FC," Ljungberg said in a statement from the team. "I didn't know exactly what to expect when I first came to Seattle but I have to say that how the city and the fans have embraced me has gone beyond my wildest dreams and for that I am forever grateful.  

"I also want to thank my teammates who are absolutely great on and off the pitch. I have made some very close friends who I know I will be in contact with forever."

Ljungberg came to Seattle with plenty of hype, handpicked by majority owner Joe Roth and general manager Adrian Hanauer to be the team's designated player. In October of 2008, the midfielder, now 33, got a two-year contract that was to expire this November and made a team-high $1.3 million last season, earning his deal with solid on-field presence and nine assists in the team's inaugural season. 

Ljungberg ended his first MLS season on a good note with four assists in the team's final four goals of the regular season, though he was injury-prone and battled migraines on at least two occasions during 2009. He publicly admitted his appreciation for Seattle and it's vibe, and it seemed like the team, city and player were right fits for each other.

Then Ljungberg showed up late for the start of training camp this season, though that was blamed on miscommunication between his agent and the team. The tardiness didn't endear him to team captain Kasey Keller, and Ljungberg resumed his pattern of frequent complaining to and criticism of MLS officials, which didn't endear him to head coach Sigi Schmid.

With Seattle struggling for the first half of the season and the team adding Blaise N'kufo and midfielder Alvaro Fernandez as DPs, the Sounders apparently needed to get rid of Ljungberg fast. The Swedish international and former Arsenal star hadn't scored this season, and the Sounders were depleted in the midfield due to injuries  and saddled with Ljungberg's ineffective play. So much so, it appears, that the Sounders were willing to take draft picks just to be rid of him.

UPDATE: Analyzing the deal, Fernandez figures to take over as the main distributor from center midfield. The emergence of Mike Seamon and Miguel Montano, a pair of MLS rookies who look to have the makings of being solid midfielders, also probably made the Sounders more willing to deal. It's hard to imagine Ljungberg as expendable, but he sort of became the odd man out even though Seattle is down two midfielders currently because injury.

Last week. Ljungberg thanked the Seattle fans via Twitter and said on his blog that he appreciated all the love he got from Sounders fans amid speculation about his departure.

"Freddie is a tremendous individual and an exceptional player who contributed greatly to the huge success of Sounders FC, both on and off the field, in the past year and a half," Hanauer said. "Freddie, along with Kasey Keller, gave this club immediate stature in the world's game, and we are grateful for his service. We wish him all the best in Chicago."

Fernandez was added to the club's active roster in a move that coincided with the Ljungberg trade. He can play this Saturday in San Jose.



This entry was posted in Major League Soccer, MLS- Chicago Fire, MLS- Seattle Sounders. Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to Sounders deal Ljungberg to Chicago

  1. Oranje Mike says:

    Not quite, Freddy. You have just joined the most successful new franchise in MLS history.

  2. Ken says:

    Sad to see him go, but I think this is for the best — Ljungberg’s act was getting old, and the Sounders may have upgraded on the right wing in the long term anyways if Fernandez pans out. Good luck in Chicago, Freddy.

  3. Blake says:

    Hoping the change of scenery and real grass field give him his spark back.

    The new look Chicago could either be very disappointing or very dangerous. Our attack is crazy loaded now.

  4. Timber Guy says:

    Too bad. I was hoping to watch the Timbers beat the crap out of him next year in a rivalry game. Oh well.

  5. OmarVizquel says:

    Maybe too many people were making fun of his sweater: link to nytimes.com

  6. Martha says:

    Yea I guess it won’t be as fun watching the Fire kick te crap out of the Timbers next yr. Be nice and maybe well leave Calen Carr unprotected in the expansion draft for u. Will even throw in Sanjayas headband.

  7. Adam M. says:

    Good for the league that he transfered within MLS and looks like a good uptick in talent for Chicago. MLS needs NY, LA, and Chicago to do well.

  8. JGIB says:

    Glad we won’t have to listen to sounders fans say how great he is anymore

  9. peterjh says:

    You’d do that after all those Timber fans came out to support your team in Seattle last year? :)

    Honestly, I’d be surprised if Ljungberg is in MLS next season.

  10. Fred Garvin says:

    Thanks for that small photo Jose

  11. This Guy says:

    Welcome aboard Freddie!
    WooooHooooo.
    I just jumped off my couch when I read this.
    Fire!

  12. Fred Garvin says:

    The Timbers couldn’t secure parking for Freddies Hummer

  13. gstommylee says:

    If the team decides to use Fernandez as a RW. They may have other plans for him like at CM but we’ll see. Seattle could still add another player.

  14. Emerald_City_Jason says:

    I’ll still say how great he is, even if he’s with the Fire.

  15. jonk says:

    Glad he’ll be staying in the league, but slightly disappointed that the much buzzed 2nd Fire DP isn’t a new name (not because I’m a Fire or Sounders supporter, just cause I wanted to be intrigued by a new face)

  16. Ken says:

    A good point, but right now I’d rather see Nyassi on the bench than Seamon.

  17. jonk says:

    Also, if the Aug 8 Fire/RBNY game isn’t sold out yet, it better be soon.

  18. C-note says:

    “Allow myself, to introduce myself.” I’m happy to have him join the Fire, it shows that Chicago is pushing for a strong 2nd half of the season.

  19. BooThisMan says:

    I heard some buzz that they were after another Mexican DP, so maybe there will be a third? Doubtful, I know, but one can dream.

  20. Men on Film says:

    CAPTION

    I give that 3 snaps and a… OH HELL NO

  21. SeattleStan says:

    I’ll miss Freddie, hopefully he is able to have a good second half of the season with Chicago. He was eating a significant portion of cap space and this season has been underwhelming. I wonder what the chances are of him sticking around for next season with Chicago, because you would have thought if any decent offers in Europe were there, the MLS would have sold. Anyways, good luck in Chicago Freddie.

  22. thedude says:

    Good trade for both teams. MAkes sense.

    Good too see Freddie stay in MLS.

  23. Deacon says:

    Word is that the third DP in Seattle may be used to keep Montaro in the fold come next year. I sure as heck hope so….

  24. Hopper says:

    When he signed with Seattle, I never thought he’d be gone midway through our second season, but honestly, he’s been really disappointing this year. Too much bitching and not enough playing. The game between Seattle and Chicago at Qwest Field on Aug. 28 is gonna really interesting now.

  25. C-note says:

    BMB might have a big job to keep it cool with potential hot heads Castillo/Ljungberg, bit I can’t wait to see how this is going to look now.

  26. jonk says:

    3rd times a charm on the photo for this article, Jose?

  27. fischy says:

    Interesting piece. Absolutely no discussion of what Freddie might do at Chicago. All about the spilled milk in Seattle.

  28. Hopper says:

    Please explain what good it would to speculate on what Freddie might do in Chicago. Based on what he did in Seattle? Not much.

  29. Jeff says:

    The Seattle PR rep couldn’t have written it better. Are you the PR rep?

  30. Stephen says:

    Why was Kasey Keller mentioned in that last statement?

  31. Drew says:

    Klopas said he sees him playing in the middle as a playmaker.

  32. patrick says:

    thats usually the case when a trade is announced, especially of this magnitude. I’m sure Ives, or someone else will follow up with a pieve about the impact on both sides roster and play.

  33. Took the words right out of my mouth.

  34. sal says:

    Agreed. Feels like a writeup from the Sounders fan forum.

    Thanks for the objective take, Jose!

  35. Isaac says:

    Because he gave them immediate stature in the world’s game?

    I suppose that just means that while Seattle aren’t a bad team without Keller or Ljungberg, quality players can only make a team better, especially if they fit into the team well.

  36. v says:

    really man. its about time the big markets were let loose to cater to their international-saavy demographics and stop worrying about whether middle of america or suburban teams like KC, RSL, or San jose could keep up. When the big media markets sign big names and ATTRACT attention to the league, everyone in MLS benefits.

  37. SeattleStan says:

    What else did you want him to say? Chicago were giving up picks, its not like they traded away a key player or something. Jose used to write for the Seattle Times and his articles that he has written has come from the Sounders perspective so far. But go ahead and fault him for what he has been doing all along. I’m sure you were dying to call him a “homer” or something like that. Clowns.

  38. B Cherry says:

    Perfect fit for both sides…Chicago back in the hunt once again

  39. Neruda says:

    I think Seattle did the right thing by dropping him and it shows that MLS teams are not content with having DP’s that don’t perform.

  40. Ben says:

    Eh, moves to Chicago, a bit more cosmopolitan than Seattle, let us be honest, so good for him. Whatever the problems, and evidently there were a few, the MLS and Freddie handled this quite like professionals, which I think bodes well all around.

  41. Clayton says:

    Whoa, didn’t see that one coming. That doesn’t seem like a lot to give up to get a player like him.

  42. c@c.com says:

    As a Fire supporter, I guess this is better than nothing, but I’ve never seen anything out of Lunjberg to show that he deserves DP money. He’s the poor mans GBS, which will be an upgrade for us, but I was hoping for a better player.

  43. john says:

    Happy to have him on board! Our mid-field was lacking and if we get some quality service we might see Collins John actually be a threat offensively! Nery just runs straight at defenders and then beats them, Nyarko has tremendous speed and with Nery Nyarko may have a striker that can keep up with him, I’d say we would be a lock for a playoff spot if it weren’t for our questionable D and lack of a quality keeper! If Johnson starts from here on out we might have hope, he is at least capable!

    Timbers Supporters: You are well respected among Fire Supporters and seen as allies. We had several people show up to matches in Chicago wearing red but also a TA scarf and they were always welcomed as friends. Any digs at you are not the general attitude toward your supporters or club.

    Sounders Fans: I intended to gloat a bit but every blog I’ve read, 98% of you that have commented have been very classy so I will follow suit and keep my mouth shut.

  44. Chicago MIke says:

    Can anyone actually translate what they gave up for him what are the conditional picks based on???

  45. Pete from Chitown says:

    The Fire did trade Justin Mapp an outside mid earlier this week to Philly to free up some Cap space for Freddie.

  46. peterjh says:

    I doubt they’ll need to worry about it.

  47. RLW2020 says:

    “the most successful new MLS franchise” HAHA what the hell does that mean?

  48. Charles says:

    I think getting rid of Ljungberg sealed the deal on most successful new MLS frachise.

    What a waste of $1.3 million a year.

    Are the Fire going to extend his contract ?

  49. Zack says:

    The guy can split two defenders like nobody’s business, but his service is poor and he’s non-existent with finishing. However, he’s a great link up player.

    Z

  50. TinPHX says:

    Seriously?… It means no other MLS Franchise has been as profitable in their first year. Dude, they’ve sold out every home game (30+K). No other MLS team even comes close.

  51. Charles says:

    I am glad he HELPED get them jump started. Seattle has had very good attendance in past years ( NASL days )

    He can’t take a corner worth a hoot, gets pushed around in MLS and doesn’t play D. Many of us 30+K people are glad the Sounders moved on.

  52. Chodilicus says:

    Sounders continually searching for a number 10 but the obvious choice seems to be right in front of them. It seems that they keep moving Ljundberg into the middle and now rumors are that Fernandez will move there. It seems to me that the best creative and distributing player on their team is Freddy Montero.

    Montero seems to frequently drop deep into the midfield anyway and has gotten terrible service all year as a striker. He doesn’t have great speed and is not good in the air. To me Seattle would be wise to make Montero into a traditional number 10 type of player with two true strikers in front of him.