Ljungberg returns to Qwest Field

Sounders Preview

The basics

Seattle Sounders FC vs. Chicago Fire

TV info

10:30 p.m. E, Direct Kick, MatchDay Live.

Game intro

Freddie Ljungberg makes his return to the great Northwest in the most anticipated game of this weekend’s MLS slate. He already signed plenty of autographs after landing at the airport, but will the Qwest Field crowd be as welcoming? With both teams clawing for a playoff spot, the Swede’s return will be the most intriguing subtext, but the reality is that both teams need the points.

Home team news

Seattle’s Champions League adventure hasn’t been fruitful, with two consecutive losses in the CONCACAF competition. Those frustrating results have interrupted what had been a remarkable resurgence in the league campaign. GoalkeeperKasey Keller said after the Monterrey loss that it will be easy for the team to “wipe that clean” and return to MLS success.

Away team news

With three assists in four games since joining his new team, Ljungberg has sparked a good run of form for the Fire. Nery Castillo—Chicago’s other Designated Player—admitted this week that he was “out of shape” and won’t make the trip with Carlos de los Cobos’ squad. That will leave the attacking responsibility to Ljungberg. On the defensive end, de los Cobos seems to have unearthed a gem in rookie goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who has earned the NAPA Save of the Week in three of the past four weeks.

Heroes & villains:

Ljungberg vs. Keller — They would never admit it in public, but it was widely rumored that the locker room rift in Seattle centered on these two individuals. Jeff Parke said it was “more just egos” – and certainly these two players have resumes to match. Although Ljungberg has said all the right things in the media during the past two months, you know he would love to slip one past his former teammate.

Stat that makes you go, “Hmm …"

28: Including Saturday’s match, Seattle has had 28 consecutive sellouts for league matches at Qwest Field