The Seattle Sounders FC has signed midfielder Freddie Ljungberg to a multi-year contract, the team announced today.
RENTON, WASH. – The Seattle Sounders FC has signed midfielder Freddie Ljungberg to a multi-year contract, the team announced today. Ljungberg starred for 10 seasons in the English Premier League and served as captain of Sweden during this past summer’s European Championships.
Freddie LjungbergLjungberg, 31, becomes the seventh Designated Player in Major League Soccer. The Designated Player rule, adopted prior to the 2007 season, allows teams to sign a player that would not count against the salary cap. Ljungberg (pronounced LOON-berg) was a free agent, having last played for England’s West Ham United in 2007-08. Representing Ljungberg is CAA Sports, a division of Creative Artists Agency.
“We looked far and wide for a designated player who would represent the spirit of our team,” said Sounders FC majority owner Joe Roth. “In Freddie Ljungberg, we found it. A proven international star at Arsenal and captain of the Swedish National Team, Freddie is the exciting, creative force we need and we are sure the Seattle fans are in for a great treat.”
Capped 75 times by Sweden and a starting choice since the age of 19, Ljungberg becomes the second full international and EPL star to join the Seattle expansion club. Olympia native Kasey Keller, the most capped keeper in U.S. history, signed in August. Also signed for the 2009 inaugural season are French forward Sebastien Le Toux and Gambian midfielder Sanna Nyassi.
“Fortunately, I had many opportunities and offers from around Europe and the rest of the world during the last few months, including Seattle to play in MLS,” said Ljungberg. “After thoughtful considerations I decided this opportunity with Seattle was the right one for me. Seattle is a great city. I know this part of the world quite well. The club itself has such great ambition and the fans over here are very passionate about their team. I am very excited about the potential of the club and cannot wait to start the new season in 2009.”
Ljungberg is widely recognized for his prominent role in Arsenal’s run of two EPL and three FA Cup championships between 1999-2005. Recently, Ljungberg was voted top 11 on the Gunners’ all-time top 50 players.
“Freddie Ljungberg has been an impactful player in the Premier League and international play for the past 10 years,” said Sounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer. “His intelligence, his quickness, his bravery, his competitiveness, his experience, will all make Freddie a highly effective player in Major League Soccer.”
In all, he appeared in 328 matches for Arsenal from 1998-07, scoring 72 goals. His season high was 17 in 2001-02 in all competitions, 12 in league play.
“Freddie Ljungberg is a world-class player who has played at the highest club and international levels of the game and who, at 31, still has a lot to give,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “He is an attacking player who will bring his flair and creativity to the MLS stage and is also a consummate professional off the field. We are delighted to welcome Freddie to MLS. Seattle Sounders FC have shown great vision since they have announced the formation of the club in 2007. This is another step toward creating the first-class team that will draw the attention of the dedicated supporters in the city and throughout North America.”
Ljungberg is a two-time Swedish footballer of the year (2002 and 2006). His career began at age 16, signing with local club BK Halmstad. His senior first team debut came as a 17-year-old. After winning a first division and domestic cup title in Sweden, he was scouted by Arsenal and spotted by Arsène Wenger. His rights were purchased by Arsenal in 1998 after an impressive display for Sweden in a World Cup qualifier versus England, when suddenly also the rest of Europe’s top teams discovered him.
During his first seven seasons in north London, Arsenal won two EPL trophies and were runners-up five times. The club never finished lower than fourth during his tenure.
Between his first appearance for his country in 1998 (vs. U.S.A.) and his international retirement following Euro 2008, Ljungberg played in two World Cups (2002, 2006) and three Euros. He had served as national team captain since 2006 and, altogether, scored 14 goals. Several of Europe’s top newspapers judged Ljungberg to be one of Sweden’s top performers at Euro 2008.
Host nation Austria’s leading newspaper labeled Freddie, following Sweden’s opening-game defeat of defending champion Greece, “the engine” of Team Sweden.” He played all 270 minutes of his nation’s matches at Euro 2008.
Karl Fredrik (Freddie) Ljungberg
Birthplace: Vittsjo, Sweden
Last club: West Ham United (England)
Ljungberg’s Playing Career
BK Halmstad (Sweden; 1994-98)
Arsenal (England; 1998-07)
West Ham United (England; 2007-08).