MLS’s newest team, Seattle Sounders FC, is making a lot of noise this season even though they haven’t even played their first match yet. I discussed Seattle’s first big signing here. Now, they’ve got themselves a Designated Player too, but it isn’t Thierry Henry, who many pundits thought they may be able to persuade to play in the Great Pacific Northwest.
Nope, it was a former teammate of his @ Arsenal though, Freddie Ljungberg.
The signing of Ljungberg as a DP means Henry will not likely play in Seattle (though teams can pick up a second DP slot, it’s far more likely Henry will end up in NY one day than Seattle). But, the Sounders have gotten themselves one of the most recognizable faces in world football nevertheless.
Ljungberg, age 31, is perhaps the finest Swedish player ever. After dominating his domestic league for four years, he was signed by Arsenal in 1998. In his debut for the Gunners, he came on as a substitute and notched a goal against their hated rival, Manchester United.
In 2001-2002, Ljungberg had the greatest season of his career and helped Arsenal capture their second Prem title and the FA Cup. In 25 EPL matches, he scored 12 goals, and his inspired play earned him league MVP honors. He continued to make big contributions to Arsenal until 2005, when injuries began to take their toll and limited his effectiveness.
In 2007, he was dealt to West Ham, where he struggled to remain relevant. In fact, over his last 68 Premiership appearances, he only scored three goals. Injuries hampered him continuously, and many experts believed he was past his prime. West Ham and Ljungberg mutually agreed to end their relationship.
Now, Ljungberg will have a chance to finish his career in MLS. Seattle fans are already praying Freddie is healthy come the start of next season. Seattle will need him to stay healthy for the duration too. He’s had a slew of injuries over the last four years that could derail the Sounders high hopes for him. Ankle. Hip. Migraines. Even blood poisoning from a large tattoo. Hopefully, the only thing Ljungberg will be getting inked in Seattle is his contract.
One good thing Seattle has going for it is that Ljungberg has already walked away from playing with the Swedish Nats. Thus, unlike Beckham, he will be present and accounted for during the regular season while other team’s stars travel all over the globe searching for international glory.
The Sounders will likely deploy Ljungberg as a wing in midfield as that is his preferred position. That tactic has worked quite well for the Crew with Schelotto. But depending on who else they acquire, he may need to be lined up in the middle, as the team’s offensive maestro. He could even play second striker underneath Le Toux.
I think Freddie will do some good things for Seattle. I doubt he’s washed up yet, and I could see him rejuvenating his career with the Sounders. If he plays well and stays healthy, he will be a big hit with the notoriously dedicated Sounders supporters.
Well, he’ll be a big hit with the Seattle ladies even if he stinks on the pitch. If you’ve never seen Ljungberg, then let me explain. He’s basically the Swedish Beckham. He’s been a male model for Calvin Klein. In 2007, he was voted sexiest player in the Prem and the third most attractive athlete in the world by Sports Illustrated. Who was SI’s #2 most attractive athlete? Why, Mr. Beckham of course.
MLS used to stand for Major League Soccer, but if teams keep acquiring pretty boy DPs like Beckham and Ljungberg it may take on a new name: Major League Studs.