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Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Ljungberg's job unfinished in MLS

By Charlie Corr

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Chicago Fire midfielder and designated player Freddie Ljungberg typically has not moved around too much throughout his professional soccer career.

Freddie Ljungberg
Freddie Ljungberg could stay in Chicago for quite a while.
So while the recent acquisition of Ljungberg appears to be quick fix to mold a championship-caliber season, Ljungberg said Wednesday that Chicago could also turn into a long-term option down the line.

"I definitely hope so," Ljungberg said. "When I went to America I really wanted to try to make a difference and see if soccer can establish itself as a big sport. And here, I think this is a perfect opportunity to do that. I'm going to try to do as well as I can and try to be a good ambassador for the Fire."

Ljungberg made his move to MLS and debuted with then-expansion Seattle Sounders FC last year. Ljungberg says he has weighed many options to either stay in the U.S. or go back overseas, and the Sweden midfielder wants to finish his task here in MLS.

"When I came to America, a lot of people said I was mad because I was too young to go and said I should have kept on playing and winning things in Europe," Ljungberg said. "I feel like I haven't done enough here yet and I want to do more -- win the [MLS] Cup, that would be nice.

"There was a lot of interest from Europe and in America, as well," he said. "I said I need to make a decision. I'm 33 years old and I need to make a decision with what I want to do. ... Chicago was very persistent in approaching me."

Ljungberg said that a couple weeks ago Fire owner Andrew Hauptman and technical director Frank Klopas started courting Ljungberg to make the move to Chicago. Apparently they made a successful pitch.

"Andrew said he is a winner and he wants to be in it to win things," Lungberg said of his talks with Hauptman and Klopas. "There's nothing else on his mind. We want to get winners in and go for it. They brought in [Nery] Castillo a couple days before me. [Hauptman] wants to build a great team and wants me to help them. The way he sold it, I thought, was great."

Ljungberg's tenure at Seattle ended prematurely, with his Sounders contract ending this November. Ljungberg said he did not having a falling out with the Sounders organization, but in a matter of weeks Chicago acquired Ljungberg for either a 2011 or 2012 MLS SuperDraft conditional selection.

"I always wanted to play for the team and train for the team," Ljungberg said. "That was the management, or the coaches, [who said] that I shouldn't train while that was going on [with my ankle injury]. ... No bad blood. They are still my friends."

Ljungberg only has one Fire training session and a second-half portion of a win over the Los Angeles Galaxy under his belt with Chicago. But he is eager to contribute toward a group that has needed some midfield experience and stability this season.

"I think it looks good," Ljungberg said of the Fire personnel on board in the midfield. "I think the important thing is to try and keep the ball as much as you can -- that's what the coach wants, to be a dominating team. And we have some great players that can make a difference. Like Patrick [Nyarko], [he] has a lot of speed, and I can try to play him in behind the lines, make him use his speed. [Collins] John and [Brian] McBride are big boys. They can hold up the ball and help us out. So I think it's going to be great."