Fire counting on Ljungberg to provide creativity

Ljungberg_-_We_are_Chicago

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Fire

 BY ANTHONY ZILIS

When Chicago Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos joined the Fire last offseason, he pledged that his team would play attractive soccer, with more short passing in the midfield.

The departures of playmakers Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Chris Rolfe made that more difficult and left the team sorely lacked creativity in the midfield.

De Los Cobos and the Fire are banking on Freddie Ljungberg changing that.

"Here, they want me to take a little experience I had from Arsenal, where we kept the ball a lot more. Here, no disrespect to the American players, but sometimes they hit it maybe a little bit longer and there's more flight," Ljungberg said Wednesday at Toyota Park in his first meeting with Chicago media.

"I think they want me to get that confidence into the team. We've got great guys on the outside with Marco and Patrick having some speed."

Ljungberg arrived in Chicago Monday after talks with Fire technical director Frank Klopas and owner Andrew Hauptman which were described as happening "a while ago," though a date or time frame was not given.

The Swedish star was impressed by the two, who collaborated on the signing of Mexican designated player Nery Castillo less than three weeks ago.

"They were very persistent," Ljunberg said. "What really sold it to me was how Andrew and Frank were in the meeting and how they really wanted this club to go to the next level. That's what sold it to me, they wanted to win."

Hauptmanhas shown he isn't afraid to open his wallet in order to help the Fire improve. The Ljungberg trade, Klopas said, happened quickly and the owner was happy to oblige Seattle's desire to move the midfielder.

"I keep saying, we're very fortunate and lucky to have an owner that's committed," Klopas said. "It's easy to talk about bringing DP's and we're working hard on some guys. Andrew was right on top of everything and made it happen."

As for Ljungberg's tenuous situation in Seattle, where he was criticized this year by head coach Sigi Schmid for complaining to referees and by goalkeeper Kasey Keller for coming to camp late, Klopas wasn't worried.

"You're always surprised, especially when it comes to DP situations," he said. "Look, there's always two sides to every story. You never know what's there. I'm just glad it worked out for us."

While considering his departure from Seattle, where he helped last year's expansion club to the Western Conference Finals and  was named to the MLS best XI, Ljungberg had plenty of offers overseas.

Though he was non-commital on accepting his player option for next season, he decided he couldn't walk away from his two-year contract with MLS.

"For me, it was a question of whether to go back to the Champion's League, there were some teams on that level. Being 33, that was very complimentary," Ljungberg said. "But I felt I made a commitment to MLS, and I felt I should still stay here and try to finish it."

The Chicago skyline probably didn't hurt either.

"When I did my research everybody said it was probably the most beautiful city in America," Ljungberg said.

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28 Responses to Fire counting on Ljungberg to provide creativity

  1. SeattleStan says:

    Where’s all the comments about how this article is biased and written like it was from the Chicago PR department? Because I sure remember a few comments like that in the piece written by Jose.

  2. SP says:

    i don’t really see the bias here. i mean i’m sure anthony is a fire fan, but this article is like 80% quote and everything else is devoid of opinion.

  3. gabe says:

    This article is biased! Happy?

  4. Kathleen Turner Overdrive says:

    As a Fire and Arsenal fan I’m very pleased the Fire had this opportunity to bring Ljungberg to Chicago. The front five of Ljungberg, Castillo, Pappa, Nyarko, and John/McBride should be able to create some scoring chances.

  5. jonk says:

    Exactly and that is SeattleStan’s point. The previous article spent more time discussing the reasons behind the trade and the impact it would have on Seattle and tons of commenters said it was biased for not talking about what the trade meant for Chicago. Nevermind that Chicago hadn’t officially introduced Freddie and nobody from the Fire had commented on what he would mean for them.

  6. SP says:

    ahh, ok thanks for the clarification

  7. tommyc says:

    Chicago, the most beautiful city in America? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against Chicago, but I’m gonna have to disagree on that one.

  8. hm says:

    McBride? I haven’t heard much from him since he left Fulham.How’s he doing in MLS? Tell me he’s getting DP money, cause I know had he stayed wih Fulham through to the 08-09 season, he’d be banking on 2 million dollars or more a year.

  9. kev says:

    Kinda like Robert Pires saying Philly was truly awful. Guess he never went to Detroit.

  10. JoeW says:

    It’s a PR job. Read articles introducing Ljundberg when he came to Seattle and they said probably the same thing. The problem isn’t what people say at the BEGINNING of the relationship (after all, don’t most marriage vows say something like “till death do us part”?) but once you’ve spent a little time together. Then we find out if acquiring FL was a mistake or he just wasn’t a good fit with the Sig-Meister.

  11. RedLine55 says:

    If there’s anything more beautiful than a CTA bus I don’t wanna know about it.

  12. Bill says:

    He wanted to move closer to family. Some one can correct me if I’m wrong, but he’s from Arlington Heights, a suburb of Chicago. I take it he wanted to play for the Fire.

  13. Bill says:

    so true.

  14. bgix says:

    Didn’t lead us to the Western Conference Finals.

    We lost to Houston, who lost to LA, who lost to RSL.

    That was all FL’s fault.

  15. sucram89 says:

    If it isn’t the most beautiful it’s definitively in the top 3.

  16. Kevin H. says:

    Way to steal D.C United’s catch-phrase. -____-

  17. Fred Garvin says:

    I believe you need to go explore America.

  18. Zop says:

    Thanks for taking the dead weight off our hands!

  19. Fred Garvin says:

    Free freddie vests for the first 100 Timbers fans who show up at Qwest in a Fire shirt.

  20. k says:

    FL said all the same things when he started in Seattle: the city is beautiful, they want me to teach short passes, they want me to control the midfield, they have great players, but he didn’t do any of those things, he just fell down and complained about it, so we will see if anything will change.

  21. c-doom says:

    Freddie, we loved you and this is how you treat us, thrown over for your newest flame….

    oh well, you got fat anyway.

    and old.

    and complain all the time.

    We will politely greet you when you return, then we’ll be dropping goals past you regularly, poaching those passes of yours when your teammates and you can’t get on the same page, and then hopefully not laughing too loud as you get carded for complaining.

    BUT DONT YOU KNOW WHO I AM? THIS IS HOW WE DID IT AT ARSENAL

    Good luck pal.

  22. Ian says:

    what really got me was the “commitment” part. yeah right.

  23. I believe you need to go explore Chicago.

  24. Fred Garvin says:

    Done that.

  25. Raymon says:

    Great that Chicago and NY like Arsenal-bred players! I cant wait until Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri move here in 2020. Meanwhile, someone should really think about the entertainment value of a DP like Jens Lehmann. Heck, why not bring in David Seaman, Ray Parlour, and Ian Wright?

  26. Charles says:

    Man, I thought I would be one of the few that ripped on him. I am glad he helped, and it was just helped, bring in money the first year.

    Other than that:

    Ditto.

    I wonder if he will help on D when he plays in Seattle on the 28th ?

    Hopefully he will play like he does, maybe complain to the ref instead, so the Sounders can count on another victory without him.

    How long has he been gone ? 5 wins and 2 ties so far.

  27. Prosneef says:

    What a great way for Freddie to say “American MLS players suck at passing”. It’s hard to disagree with him.

  28. Ski Fast! says:

    And as I think you see, he’s basically correct in his assessment.