On the heels of acquiring designated player Álvaro Fernández from Nacional of Uruguay, Seattle Sounders FC have traded their original DP, Freddie Ljungberg, to the Chicago Fire for a conditional draft pick.
The trade makes the 33-year-old midfielder Chicago’s second designated player, having signed Nery Castillo last week, while helping Seattle avoid adding a third designated player to their roster and having to pay a $250,000 tax.
Seattle have now added Fernández to their team, the Uruguayan joining Blaise Nkufo as designated players. The 24-year-old midfielder is eligible to play Saturday against San Jose.
Ljungberg has been with Seattle since they joined Major League Soccer last season, twice being named an All-Star and being selected to the MLS Best XI for 2009. Ljungberg led Seattle with nine assists last season but had not appeared in a match since July 4’s loss to Los Angeles.
At the time of his exclusion, Seattle had reported Ljungberg out with an ankle injury, but during his recuperation it was revealed that club and player were looking for options that could have Ljungberg leave Seattle.
Ljungberg had been most readily connected with the New York Red Bulls, an option that seemed to disappear as New York pursued Barcelona defender Rafa Marquez for their third designated player spot.
Seventy-five times capped by Sweden, Ljungberg came to Seattle last season after one year with West Ham United in the English Premier League. Ljungberg had moved to the Hammers after nine seasons with Arsenal, where he was a part of two Premier League champions and three FA Cup winners.
Ljungberg helped steer Seattle to the playoffs last year but had experienced a dip in form in 2010, partially reflected in no goals through 15 games played.
Despite the decline in form, Ljungberg was spoken of positively by Seattle general manager Adrian Hanauer in the team’s press release announcing the transaction:
"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," said Adrian Hanauer, general manager. "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."
In the same release, Ljungberg spoke to the experience he had with Seattle:
"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. 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 now moves to Chicago, who (like Seattle) is battling for a playoff spot. He leaves the Sounders having recorded two goals and 12 assists in his 37 MLS appearances with the club.