Chicago Fire

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.

Dax McCarty looks back on joining the Fire in candid interview

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USA TODAY

Dax McCarty looks back on joining the Fire in candid interview

Dax McCarty is pretty much a reporters' dream. He is a good player, a nice guy, a funny guy and, perhaps most importantly for reporters, he's brutally honest.

Since McCarty has arrived with the Chicago Fire he has given his view of how things should be or what's wrong with the team on a regular basis. In this case, he appeared in an MLSsoccer.com video feature with former Fire player Calen Carr. The video is about the Fire's resurgence this season and the All-Star Game coming to Chicago.

With the Fire solidly in a playoff position, even despite the team's current slump, McCarty looked back on his initial feelings about being traded to the Fire after the club had finished last in the league two straight seasons.

"I think saying coming to a club that had been on hard times is putting it lightly," McCarty said to Carr. "You're being very polite.

"It was one of those situations where you think about it and at first you're like, 'Oh, wow this sucks. I'm going to one of the worst teams in the league.' But then you take a step back and you start to have that belief in yourself that like, 'Hey, they traded for me for a reason, if I could come in and help turn this team around, help turn this club back into a winner, that'd be a really cool feeling.' I want to be known as a winner."

General manager Nelson Rodriguez also talks about the club's initiative to put a mini-pitch at Gage Park and the state of the club. Carr then talks with Patrick Stanton from Section 8 about the recent history and, as he put it, "renaissance" of the Fire this year.

The full video, embedded below, is worth a watch for Fire fans.

Thrown into the Fire: Christian Dean hoping fresh start will benefit his career

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USA TODAY

Thrown into the Fire: Christian Dean hoping fresh start will benefit his career

It didn’t take long after Christian Dean was traded to the Chicago Fire for him to see significant playing time.

Dean was acquired by the Fire in a trade from Vancouver on Aug. 9, the last day before trade deadline, and has already made two appearances totaling 175 minutes. He was thrown into the deep end in Montreal after Joao Meira went down with an injury five minutes into that game, which took place a week after the Fire traded for him.

On Saturday, Dean made his first start with the Fire. He played all 90 minutes in the 3-1 loss to Toronto FC, in which he had the assignment of defending national team striker Jozy Altidore.

Despite jumping straight into the mix in a playoff race and getting playing time right away, Dean said the transition hasn’t been difficult.

“It’s actually been very easy,” Dean said. “The guys are very welcoming. I think the coaches are welcoming, the staff is welcoming so I really enjoy it here.”

Dean was added to give the Fire extra depth at center back. Before he arrived the team had only three, Meira, Johan Kappelhof and Jonathan Campbell. Dean got the starting nod ahead of Campbell on Saturday.

“He’s a player that we have eyed and scouted for a long time,” general manager Nelson Rodriguez said on Tuesday. “Sometimes it just doesn’t work in a certain environment and we know Vancouver put a lot into Christian and had high hopes for him and worked hard with him, but he had a rash of injuries that probably hurt his time there, but he’s still very young. We still believe he has a lot of high level qualities. He’s very good on the ball, he’s a very good decision maker. He’s got great athleticism. He has a hunger for the game and he’s a good person. Time will tell. We didn’t acquire him with just six months in mind, but how long that extends will in large part be determined by how we interpret his performance.”

Dean, 24, was the No. 3 pick in the 2014 draft. Playing time was limited in Vancouver, partially due to injuries. A broken bone in his foot cost him the entire 2016 season. Another foot injury, this time a stress reaction in the fifth metatarsal of his left foot suffered in training on April 25, kept him out of the rotation for the Whitecaps after he started three of the team’s first five games this season.

“I’m feeling really good right now,” Dean said. “This is the most healthy I’ve felt in the past two years. I’m just trying to take my opportunity.”

Soccer wasn’t always the focus for Dean. As he put it, he grew up in a basketball family. His half-brother, Josh Huestis, plays in the NBA for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

At 6-foot-3, Dean stands out on a soccer field due to his size. When asked if he can dunk, Dean responded with a laugh, “Oh yeah.”

Despite playing a lot of basketball growing up, Dean made the decision to focus on soccer.

“I think when I was like 16 I realized I really actually wanted to play soccer,” Dean said. “I went into college thinking I was just going to enjoy my time playing in college and I started playing well there and got opportunities.”

After three years at Cal, Dean got a Generation adidas contract, making him an early entry player into the draft.

Dean said he fits into coach Veljko Paunovic’s style, which, as he described it, is to play the ball out of the back and through midfield.

His move to the Fire has given him a fresh start and another chance to get regular MLS minutes.

“I’m very, very happy that the club wanted me,” Dean said. “It seems the players really want me.”