When Freddie Ljungberg was introduced to Seattle in 2008, he and the Sounders FC were taking a leap of faith. Now, after 37 regular season appearances, an MLS First XI honor and a US Open Cup title, the two time All-Star has been traded to the Chicago Fire.
His time in Seattle may prompt mixed reactions from Sounders FC fans, but to me, the memories of No. 10 in Seattle will only be fond ones.
It is unquestionable that he was vital in the incredible success of the Sounders FC in its first two seasons.
He had 2 goals and 9 assists in his first MLS season and earned an MLS First XI selection and was captain of the MLS All-Star team. He had highly memorable matches at both the beginning and end of the season. In his first MLS start, he scored in a 2-0 win over Toronto FC at BMO Field. While Seattle was pressing to clinch a playoff berth in the season’s final games, Ljungberg caught fire in Kansas City, setting up all three goals in a come-from-behind 3-2 win over the Wizards.
In 2010, he torched opposing defenses, but amidst Seattle’s early-season doldrums, he couldn’t manage to produce at the same level. His skill and effort, however, did earn him an All-Star nod.
On-field production aside, though, he was fantastic off the field.
Few knew about his visits to Children’s Hospital, as well as his other work in the community.
Despite reports to the contrary, those close to the team liked No. 10 on the field and very much enjoyed his company off of it. He sent messages to several members of the organization after his trade to Chicago was finalized on Friday and spoke with some teammates before getting on a plane. All were highly appreciated gestures.
He came to Seattle to make an impact on soccer in the northwest. Obviously there was a pretty solid soccer community established. However, his dealings with children and other fans on the field and off will leave lasting impressions on them - and me for that matter.
I look forward to seeing Freddie when the Sounders face the Fire August 28 at Qwest Field and September 25 at Toyota Park in Chicago. And I’ll be rooting for him in every match he plays in - except, of course, when the rave green are on the pitch with him.