After dealing talented, if inconsistent, midfielder Justin Mapp earlier this week, the Chicago Fire bolstered their midfield with the addition former Arsenal standout and underwear model Freddie Ljungberg on Friday. Seattle Sounders dealt Ljungberg, who has been described as a bit of a malcontent this season, for a conditional 2011 or 2012 SuperDraft pick.
Ljungberg had a great 2009 campaign in Seattle, earning a starting role and captaincy of the MLS All-Star team against Everton. He played a huge role in the success of the club throughout their first season, which included a U.S. Open Cup championship. However, he’s been plagued with injury and perceived attitude issues this season to the point that he hasn’t appeared in a match over the last few weeks.
Prior to coming to the MLS, Ljungberg played for Premiership sides Arsenal and West Ham, most prominently for the former. The native Swede appeared in over 300 matches for Gunners and scored 72 goals on the way to being named the 11th best player in club history.
As for what this means for the Fire, it’s really hard to say. Earlier this week, the Men in Red officially welcomed their first designated player to the club in the enigmatic Nery Castillo. The Mexican was the best of El Tri in the 2007 Gold Cup, but a multitude of performance and personality issues have turned the 26-year old’s once promising career to that of missed opportunity. Most feel that Chicago may be his last chance.
Now, the Fire add another player who may or may not have attitude issues in addition to general ineffectiveness this season. Everyone knows that Ljungberg can play in the MLS, but his performance this year has been puzzling.
In other words, the Fire have two guys who may be among the best in the league. On the other hand, they could both end up as major disappointments if recent history is to serve as any sort of predictor.
If it does work out, let’s start to look at the Fire attack, it would be absolutely loaded. In the midfield, the duo would join arguably the most important Fire player this season in Patrick Nyarko and MLS First XI member Marco Pappa. Brian McBride and Collins John have been somewhat inconsistent at forward this season, but one would think that improved midfield play would certainly help their production as well.
Ultimately, I think it’s worth the risk. At this point in the season, what do the Fire have to lose?