Many happy returns

I took part in a media conference call with Freddie Ljungberg yesterday addressing his return to Seattle tonight as a member of the Chicago Fire. Below are select quotes from that call…

On returning to Qwest Field as a member of the Chicago Fire

I’m probably going to have a big smile on my face. It’s going to be a little weird, no question about it. The little time I’ve been back in Seattle today – I just walked to Starbucks, people stopped me for autographs and wanted to talk. It just proves what a great time I had here.

What kind of reception are you expecting?

You get into the stadium and you never know what kind of reception you’ll get when you get back. Of course I can hope for some of that. I spoke to some other people that told me they’re probably going to be very nice to you in the beginning and then if the score is not going their way they may get on your back. We’ll see what happens.

On turning down a European offer to stay in Major League Soccer and join the Chicago Fire…

There was one team interested in me in a very big league -- Champions League level -- that wanted me to join this summer and it was kind of a hard decision for me, because sometimes you feel a little bit more in your legs when you see the big games, to play in them again. I’ve been in America, I’ve promised the fans I’d help out and make the sport grow. The way Andrew [Hauptman] spoke to me, to pitch me coming to Chicago, the way he wants to go for it the same kind of way New York is, to raise the level of the game here – I think that was something I wanted to keep on challenging and trying to help as much as I can. Of course Chicago also is a great city and a great team.

On the need to get three points at Qwest Field…

I think we’ve played amazingly well the last few games. Unfortunately against Houston we lost 4-3 and we conceded three corners and a free kick. Apart from that, I think we played amazingly well and to be honest I think at times we were playing Houston off the park, especially in the second half.

That’s something we need to learn from – not to concede goals like that. Playing wise, we played really well so I think we’re coming in with a lot of belief. Seattle is a hard place to come out of but at the same time I think we have three games in hand on Seattle, with a win here tomorrow we could go past them when we play a few more games. To be honest I think there’s more pressure on them to win the game than there is on us, but of course we’re trying to come in to win the game.

Freddie Ljungberg isn’t the only one returning to Seattle tonight. Goalkeeping Coach Aron Hyde returns to the Emerald City for the first time as a member of the Chicago Fire. Hailing from Birmingham, England, Hyde spent five years coaching in the Pacific northwest, first as the Goalkeeping Coach at Seattle University before moving on to an assistant coaching position at Washington University.

I asked Aron about his first return to Seattle as part of the Chicago Fire coaching staff earlier this week…

I’m looking forward to it with Freddie going back there. It’s something that will excite the crowd and they obviously get behind their team pretty well there – it’s not an easy place to play. They use to their advantage a lot there – especially last year. Overall though I had a good time living there, it’s a good soccer city.

Did you used to attend Sounders games? What other connections do you have to Sounders FC?

I used to go to quite a few – I’m friends with a couple of the guys that play so I went to a bunch of matches – they’re very enjoyable. They were very strong at home last year, maybe not as much this year. I know they’re always eager to play in front of the crowd because of the large numbers they bring so Saturday should be a good test.