Fire acquire former Arsenal midfielder Ljungberg

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Fire acquire former Arsenal midfielder Ljungberg

Friday, July 30, 2010
5:55 PM

CSNChicago.com

The Chicago Fire have acquired former Arsenal midfielder and Swedish international Freddie Ljungberg from the Seattle Sounders FC for a conditional selection in the 2011 or 2012 SuperDraft.

The move marks the first-ever trade of a Designated Player in the history of Major League Soccer. The 33-year-old midfielder becomes the Fire's second designated player and will become available for selection by Fire Head Coach Carlos de los Cobos this Sunday, Aug. 1 when the Fire take on the LA Galaxy at The Home Depot Center.

"Freddie is an exceptional player, with world-class talent and we are thrilled to have him join the Chicago Fire," Fire Technical Director Frank Klopas said. "He is a player with an illustrious career and as an attacking player he will help us towards our goal of bringing the MLS Cup to Chicago."

Credited as one of the founding members of Seattle Sounders FC, Ljungberg (pronounced LOON-berg) helped lead the expansion side to the 2009 MLS Cup playoffs in their inaugural season. In 2009, Ljungberg tallied two goals and nine assists, including five game winning assists, as the former Arsenal great was named to the 2009 MLS Best XI.

"I have been thinking long and hard about the next step in my career and I am extremely happy to become the newest member of the Chicago Fire," Ljungberg said. "I had a very long and exciting meeting with Fire owner Andrew Hauptman and technical director Frank Klopas.

"Their vision and commitment to this club and to winning championships was extremely appealing to me. I am looking forward to working with my new teammates, meeting the passionate fans of Section 8 and becoming an active part of the community, which has such a strong and successful sports tradition."

Ljungberg is widely recognized for his prominent role in Arsenal's run of two EPL and three FA Cup championships between 1999-2005. The dynamic midfielder appeared in 328 matches for Arsenal from 1998-07, scoring 72 goals and was named 2002 MVP Barclaycard Premier League Player of the Year. In 2001-02 he scored a season high 17 goals in all competitions, including 12 in league play.

During his tenure with Arsenal, the club never finished lower than fourth in the English Premier League and recently, Ljungberg was voted top 11 on the Gunners' all-time top 50 players.

Between his first appearance for Sweden in 1998 (against the United States) and his international retirement following UEFA Euro 2008, Ljungberg played in two World Cups (2002, 2006) and three UEFA Euros. He served as national team captain from 2006-2008 and, altogether, scored 14 goals.

The creative midfielder's first home match for the Men In Red pits him against former Arsenal teammate Thierry Henry, when the Fire host the New York Red Bulls at TOYOTA PARK on Aug. 8.

Tough tests in next two months should show a lot about Fire

Tough tests in next two months should show a lot about Fire

Things are looking as good as they have in many years for the Chicago Fire.

The Fire have won three games in a row, something the club has done just one other time dating back to 2014. The team’s 6-3-3 record has it sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference after missing the playoffs each of the last four years and six of the last seven.

A deeper look shows the team’s schedule so far has paved the way for this positive start and current hot stretch. The Fire’s 12 games have featured just four games against teams currently in playoffs spots, which 12 of the league’s 22 teams qualify for.

The Fire are 5-1-2 against the teams currently in the bottom 10 of the league and 1-2-1 in those four games against playoff teams. The win and the draw against teams in playoff spots both came against Columbus.

Half of the Fire’s six wins, including each of the last two, so far have come against teams in the bottom four of the league standings (Real Salt Lake, Colorado, D.C.). Of the seven teams with 14 points of fewer currently, the Fire have played six of those teams (throw in a win against Seattle, a draw against Montreal and a draw at LA onto the three aforementioned teams).

So what does this mean?

It doesn’t necessarily mean the Fire are going to come crashing down to earth, but it does mean that the Fire have consistently beaten bad teams like a good team is supposed to do. Last year (or probably even the past few years) that wasn’t the case so in that way it’s marked improvement.

It also means that tougher tests are ahead. The first one is Thursday against FC Dallas, which won last year’s U.S. Open Cup and Supporters’ Shield and was the last undefeated team in MLS before losing to San Jose on Saturday.

Including the Dallas game, seven of the Fire’s next nine are against teams in playoff spots. Five of those games are against teams among the top seven records in MLS (Dallas, Orlando twice, Kansas City, New York City FC).

May 25 vs. Dallas (5-1-4, 19 points)

June 4 at Orlando (6-4-2, 20 points)

June 10 vs. Atlanta (4-4-3, 15 points)

June 17 vs. New England (4-4-4, 16 points)

June 24 vs. Orlando (6-4-2, 20 points)

July 1 vs. Vancouver (5-5-1, 16 points)

July 5 at Portland (5-4-3, 18 points)

July 22 at New York City FC (6-4-2, 20 points)

July 29 at Kansas City (6-3-4, 22 points)

The Fire have proven to be a much improved team this year and one that figures to be in contention for a playoff spot all year. The next two months should go a long way towards showing just how improved the Fire are.

Fire get three in MLS Team of the Week

Fire get three in MLS Team of the Week

Win games and you will have players make the Team of the Week.

The Chicago Fire have won three in a row, all coming within an eight-day span, and as a result have players all over the latest MLS Team of the Week. The Week 12 collection of players counts the Fire's wins against Colorado and D.C.

Nemanja Nikolic, who scored twice against Colorado, was included for the second week in a row. He currently leads MLS with 10 goals.

Nikolic was joined by teammate Brandon Vincent, who assisted Nikolic's first goal against Colorado and helped the Fire's defense earn a pair of shutouts. Veljko Paunovic was named as the coach of the team after the Fire's two wins.

David Accam, who scored a goal each against Colorado and D.C., was on the bench.