BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Freddie Ljungberg is going back home – sort of.
The Fire’s Designated Player returns to the birthplace of his MLS career this Saturday, taking on the Seattle Sounders at Qwest Field less than one month after he was traded from the Emerald City.
Facing his former club will be a strange experience for Ljungberg, who spent a year-and-a-half with the Sounders before joining the Fire on July 30.
“It’s going to be weird,” Ljungberg said on Tuesday. “I have a lot of friends there, so it’s going to be weird in that way. But I’ve played against friends before—you just have to put your friendship away for 90 minutes and get on with it.”
Ljungberg, who left Seattle under slightly tenuous circumstances, said he isn’t sure what sort of reception he’ll get from what will be a sold-out Qwest Field crowd.
“We’ll see,” Ljungberg said. “When I was there and I said I was leaving, I got so much support from people in the city. People came up to me all the time telling me they loved what I’d done for the city and wishing me good luck. In the stands I’ll probably get some cheers, some boos, but either way … it’s not a problem.”
One thing Ljungberg is sure of is that the crowd noise at Qwest Field won’t affect him or his Fire teammates.
“If you looked at the game we played against New York here at home, it was extremely loud and people were going nuts in the stadium, so I think the players are used to it,” he said. “We can just take that experience and it’ll be the same thing [this Saturday].
“I think people should see it as a great game and a great day. It’s nice to have a lot of fans in the stadium and we’ll enjoy it."
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.