The Fire added a second designated player by acquiring midfielder Freddie Ljungberg in a trade with Seattle. The Sounders will receive a 2011 or 2012 conditional draft pick in exchange for the former Arsenal star. Ljungberg has had a rocky second season in Seattle after showing up late for training camp, getting called out by Kasey Keller, clashing with coach Sigi Schmid, engaging in a verbal battle with Peter Nowak, whining about referees, and then removing himself from Sounders training in July to "pursue other options".
The Fire gave up relatively little to acquire a 2009 MLS Best XI midfielder although the move does come with some concerns. Ljungberg has a history of injury problems and has battled migraine headaches which have caused him to miss time. He was also reportedly unhappy with a contract extension offered by Seattle which led to his self imposed exile from the team in July. Seattle's acquisition of Alvaro Fernandez appeared to seal Ljungberg's exit from the Emerald City.
Ljungberg will also have some added incentive to perform at his best since his contract with MLS expires at the end of the 2010 season. The trade is another gamble that could result in a big payoff for the Fire while giving up little in exchange. The Fire essentially traded Justin Mapp to clear a roster spot for Ljungberg. That is a swap that most fans would have to say is a positive move despite the Swede's issues this year.
Ljungberg has played on the wings for most of his career but the Fire see him filling the central attacking midfield role. If you read the comments section on July 26 after the Mapp trade, we discussed the Fire's interest in Ljungberg and his impact on the salary cap. A second designated player will count for $167,500.00 against the cap in 2010 and the Fire are not obliged to Ljungberg in 2011.
Ljungeberg will join the team in Los Angeles for the match against the Galaxy on Sunday.
Things have suddenly gotten very interesting in Bridgeview with the addition of Nery Castillo and now Freddie Ljungberg. It's a volatile mix that could produce some amazing results or some less than desirable headaches. Given the talent of the two players and the motivation of each individual to right their careers the gamble is one worth taking. If something can be done to shore up the team defensively and De Los Cobos can mesh the new additions in the last sixteen matches another deep playoff run is possible.