A Deeper Look At the Fire's Mid-Season Additions: Freddie Ljungberg
By Ben Schuman Stoler in News on Aug 4, 2010 2:40PM
Just as Chicago kisses so many pieces of the Stanley Cup champs goodbye, the Chicago Fire have added some serious firepower for the second half of the season in hopes of emulating the success of the Blackhawks and bringing home some silverware. With the addition of two designated players Fredrik "Freddie" Ljungberg and Nerry Castillo, they’ve suddenly become, on paper at least, a contender. Granted, Ljungberg is far, far past his prime and Castillo has had his own issues, but if coach Carlos de los Cobos can conjure a way to fit them in with the Brian Mcbride, Collins John, Baggio Husidic, Marco Pappa, and Patrick Nyarko offensive core we started the season with, the Fire have a real shot. Here’s some background on Ljungberg. We'll have a post on Castillo later today.
Ljungberg was a hero and fan favorite of, arguably, the best team in English Premier League history. Signing to Arsenal in 1998, Freddie went on to score 72 goals in 328 appearances before leaving in 2007. Those are remarkable numbers for a scrappy outside midfielder, but his true contribution came in the biggest moments. He was instrumental in helping the team win the EPL in 2002 and 2004 and the FA Cup in 2002, 2003, and 2005. Ljungberg had a knack for scoring in FA Cup finals - who could forget this one to seal the trophy against Chelsea in 2002 - and essentially carried Arsenal during the second half of the 2001/2002 season to a Premier League title. He was also instrumental during Arsenal’s undefeated “invincibles” 2003/2004 season, when he was the third leading scorer on the team.
Freddie had success with the Swedish national team, too. His 89th minute goal against Paraguay in the 2006 World Cup helped them advance to the next round, and he captained his country in Euro 2008 despite broken ribs.
Though injury after injury cost Ljungberg precious playing time, he’s continued to gain fame off the field. As a Calvin Klein underwear model, a gigantic billboard of his damn near naked bod looked over Times Square, and ladies everywhere suddenly started following Arsenal. Before he shaved his head, Freddie sported a ridiculous red mowhawk - and tens of thousands of Arsenal fans followed suit with the fake version (like the Matt Clement chin growth, remember?). Also, his dog is boss. Also, he blogs.
Yeah, yeah, we’re in love with him. Whatever. Like McBride, Freddie's role is to use his vast experience to help guide this team onwards. Also like McBride, though, Freddie has proven that he's not washed up just yet - he was on the 2009 MLS Best XI.