BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – They haven’t even been teammates three weeks, but the Chicago Fire’s Freddie Ljungberg and Brian McBride have already developed a solid understanding of one another on the field.
The English Premier League vets played their first match together on Aug. 8, starting at forward in the Fire’s 0-0 draw with the New York Red Bulls. They showed a good rapport throughout the match, communicating with one another, making dangerous runs off each other and nearly combining for what would have been a sublime goal at the end of the first half.
Their connection has only grown in the days since the New York match, with both players constantly discussing tactics and combining nicely during training.
[inline_node:315102]“For me, it’s a lot of fun,” McBride said of playing with Ljungberg. “He communicates extremely well, not only while we’re playing but even when we’re done he keeps talking. That’s great to get that. I enjoy it.”
“We work well together,” Ljungberg added. “He’s a great guy. I get on with him very well off the field as well, and I just think it’s working very well.”
Ljungberg’s on-field assertiveness (both with the ball and with his mouth) has been a welcome addition for McBride, who – prior to Ljungberg’s arrival – was one of the few Fire players to be vocal during games.
“I love it, it’s great,” McBride said. “I think that should be the dynamic throughout the team and with time I think it’ll get there. Freddie adds so much to the team in a sense of knowledge and the ability to pass through that knowledge.”
But there’s more to their relationship than simply talking tactics. McBride’s size opens up space up top for Ljungberg, who can then play McBride (or any other Fire player) behind opposing defenses with one of his trademark pinpoint passes.
“He has the ability to find players if they’re open for that split second,” McBride said. “That’s a big thing for me.”
“I feel it’s quite easy to play with him,” Ljungberg added. “Sometimes he gives me a bit of space with his body. It’s easy to play with good players.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.