David Falk has followed soccer in the Puget Sound region since 1974. This blog covers Sounders FC, local college soccer, Seattle Wolves FC, Tacoma Tide FC and Kitsap Pumas. Send tips or comments to: goalseattle@gmail.com
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Seattle Soccer Examiner

Seattle Soccer Examiner

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Much of the world expects Freddie to fail

Reaction has been streaming in from around the football world on Freddie Ljungberg's signing with Major League Soccer (MLS) and Seattle Sounders FC. I'd guess from what I've read in the press and blogs it is running about 80/20 towards the direction that Freddie is washed up and this is a last-gasp move to make some bucks before he goes 'into show business.' Many of the stories belittle MLS and openly question Freddie's motivations, despite his statement to Seattle fans and the press that he is coming to America 'to play soccer' while he is 'still at his prime.'

Meanwhile, a poll at GOALSeattle.com's forums shows local support for Freddie is strong,with over 60% of fans voting that he'll be an immediate success with Sounders FC.

Here is a sampling of what is being said around the internet, around the world...

"Signing a DP from Day 1 is a drastically different strategy than the approach taken by TFC.

Is one strategy preferable to the other? Absolutely. The Sounders have been criticized for the move, but good on them.

Never mind Ljungberg's $2.5-million salary per season. Nevermind the health concerns and questionable name-recognition value. The Sounders have ponied up, showing their commitment to the product. Aside from the symbolic nature of the signing, it's clear the Sounders believe they can be competitive from the get-go." --Gareth Wheeler, Toronto Sun

"So where does a player with too many injuries and not enough interest go to play? Why the MLS, of course.

The telltale sign of why Ljungberg in Seattle makes little sense could be seen at the press conference to introduce the star. Reading from your left to right were Vulcan Sports and Entertainment CEO Tod Leiweke, Sounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer, Ljungberg himself and majority owner Joe Roth.

Seriously, who in that lineup has a clue where or how Ljungberg is going to be deployed? (Besides the obvious, in the midfield.) One might think a coach might trump a player in the Sounders first-year "To-Do" list." ---Ryan Johnston, Sportsnet.ca

No rave reviews so far for Freddie's rave green choice of clubs.
(Jenni Conner, GOALSeattle.com)

"My friends, it is very possible that Seattle could be the first team to break the cycle of the expansion team ending up at the bottom of the barrel." ---Ian Mailloux, Bleacher Report

"Suspicion that hip, ankle, and rib injuries, and a bizarre case of blood poisoning caused by one of his tattoos, had taken their toll dissipated in June at the European Championship, where Ljungberg played well for an outmanned Swedish team that failed to advance out of group play. Once he and West Ham settled on the terms of his departure, Ljungberg began looking for a new team in Europe, but instead ended up visiting Seattle and landing in a new league."--Ridge Mahony, Soccer America

"Major League Soccer has its newest Designated Player, and like some of the post Beckham/Blanco signings it is a player no major club in the world would even entertain a thought of signing. Freddie Ljungberg is a player that couldn’t find playing time at West Ham United, and was little more than a role player and cult hero on some very very good Arsenal teams earlier this decade and at the end of the nineties. But Ljungberg is not the type of player MLS needs to be signing with the DP rule. This player represents little if any natural fan base in the United States and is not of the type of quality to elevate the entire league or even arguably the Seattle Sounders team he signed for."
--Kartik Krishnaiyer, MLSsoccer talk

"The speedy winger will cut a dash for the Sounders on and off the field. When at Arsenal he died his hair red and white to match the team's colors. Though he now sports a shaven head, last year he was voted the third best looking athlete by Sports illustrated, and the 17th best dressed player in the world by Esquire."--Forbes

"Ljungberg isn't a particularly flashy player. He gets up and down the wing and gives you an honest shift. But you're not going to see tricks and gadgets from him and he's not a free-kick specialist like his fellow skivvy poser in Los Angeles. Instead of flash, you'll get late, heady runs into the box. If you're a manager, that is exactly what you want to see from your players. If you're trying to attract eyeballs, it may not get the job done."--Goal.com

It's been left up to Sounders supporters, who have not seen their new club even play a match yet, to respond in blogs and websites to spin the Ljungberg signing in what would seem a more reasonable light. The European Weekly's Steve Clare, a local writer who follows the new club, weighed in a few days after the signing, ending with this suggestion:

"Let's just enjoy the arrival of a world class name to help build a world class football club, and let the (English) press say what's on their mind without worrying too much."

Dave Clark of SounderatHeart.com addresses the 'age issue.'

"If its that (Freddie's) too old, as in actually just his years are too many, I wonder what in the world is wrong with footie/soccer fans and their inability to relate to reality. Five of the league’s current Designated Players are OLDER than Freddie Ljungberg. The likely league MVP is OLDER than Freddie Ljugberg. 35 Midfielder or Forwards out of 226 in the league and on a roster (Senior and Developmental) are older, that’s 15% of the league that play attacking positions."

Ljungberg said all of the right things at both the press conference and the fan greeting later in the day:

“I feel very good. Last season I had small injuries in the fall, and after Christmas, I felt very good. The only problem was someone jumped on my rib cage, and I cracked a rib at the end of the season. I played in the Euro’s and I feel great. During this little break I’ve had, I’ve been training quite hard to keep fit. It all feels good.”

“Of course there will be mixed reactions. I know how it works. When David (Beckham) went to the MLS, and how the Europeans see the MLS that maybe the league is not that great. I think that isn’t true. Now David may be gone to Milan for a stop. I think in Europe we look at, if he can crack it in Milan; he’s still doing very well, and shows that MLS is a good level if he can do that. Me personally, I’m coming here because I want to play football, and I see this as a great experience. I want to make this league better and develop it, like all these guys here want to do as well. I’ve had three months to think about my future a lot. I wanted to feel the reaction from people around me about the MLS, and people then said, ‘you should stay three more years at least in England or in Europe to play in the top flight, and not go already to the MLS’. For me, I felt if I was going to do this, it’s a sincere thing, and really help the people over here with soccer, I should go now. I shouldn’t go in three years time when I’m past my peak. I feel really happy to be here.”

Much of the football world is waiting and expecting Freddie to fail. It will be his ultimate challenge to prove them wrong. I think that alone says something about Ljungberg, the man. He's not afraid to start his career and life over in a new city, in a new league, with a brand new team. He relishes the challenge, and the chance to prove to the many doubters that he's still got game.


  1. When it comes down to it the signing of Fredie will either be a really good thing or a really bad thing. There simply won't be a middle ground on this one. So much rides on the DP in MLS that it can't be anything other than black and white.

    I certainly hope it works out. Had he not played well at Euro this singing would be a much bigger risk as he showed that there is more in the tank. But, had he not played well at Euro I cannot imagine he would've been looked at.

    Let's see where we are next year looking back on the season and review all of those comments with a years worth of games.

  2. Can't believe a couple of these quotes.
    Johnston either believes MLS is an inferior league or just wasn't hugged enough as a child.
    Krishnaiyer is obviously trying to mask his raging envy at this signing (it's ok to cry, Kartik).
    Forbes adds absolutely nothing of value to the conversation as the comment has nothing to do w/ winning soccer matches.
    Decent comment from goal.com. We don't need flash and glitz. We don't need a Mr. Everything. We need work rate, energy level, experience and, above all, TO WIN SOCCER MATCHES!!!


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