Friday Kicks: Sounders misfit Ljungberg traded to Fire, could make Chicago debut Sunday in Carson & more

i-c5cddc8568ba9206b6561b9144bc4117-Freddiesounders.jpgFreddie Ljungberg and the Sounders in happier times, Oct. 2008, when he signed with Seattle (AP Photo).

The Seattle Sounders today dumped their biggest star – and biggest headache – trading estranged designated player Freddie Ljungberg to the Chicago Fire, who play the Galaxy Sunday in Carson.

Ljungberg is “available for selection by Fire Head Coach Carlos de los Cobos this Sunday,” Chicago officials said, so it sounds like the alleged injury (ahem) that was the supposed reason for his absence in the Sounders lineup of late has cleared up.

The 33-year-old former Arsenal player had reportedly alienated teammates and management alike in Seattle this season with his attitude and his trade comes as no surprise. Ljungberg has been a notable absentee for Sigi Schmid’s Sounders in practice sessions and games in recent weeks as the Sounders sought a way out of the mess.

Naturally, both parties were playing nice today.

“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,” Ljungberg is quoted as saying in a Sounders press release. “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.”

But not too many apparently and, of course, if things were as peachy as the Swede claims, he wouldn’t be going anywhere. This is the first trade of a desingated player in MLS history, proving no one is expendable. Let’s hope David Beckham is listening.

Back to the gushing.

“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, Sounders 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.”

That’s nice, isn’t it?

By the way, Ljungberg leaves in exchange for a “conditional selection in the 2011 or 2012 SuperDraft” so it doesn’t sound like the Fire is taking any any big leap of faith in their newest aquisition either.

Also, in a nice piece of serendipity guess who Ljungberg is likely to face in his first home game Aug. 8 for the Fire? Yup, former Arsenal teammate Thierry Henry and the New York Red Bulls.

Also today:

* Tthe U.S. Under-20 men’s national Team beat Nigeria 3-0 in Northern ireland to lift the Milk Cup, the trophy awarded in one of the world’s most prestigious youth tournaments.

Locals on the team were Bell resident Bryan De La Fuente, who plays in the Chivas USA youth system, and Fontana’s Adrian Ruelas, who plays for Santos Laguna.

*Southern California fans can expect a glimpse of Real Madrid’s latest signing next month at their Rose Bowl game against the Galaxy after his transfer was finalized today.

*Red Bull New York announced today that former Galaxy striker John Wolyniec was waived. Wolyniec, 33, scored one goal in 10 games for the Galaxy in 2006.

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About Nick Green

South Bay-based Los Angeles News Group soccer columnist and blogger Nick Green writes at the 100 Percent Soccer blog at and craft beer at the Beer Goggles blog at Cheers!