I caught up with the Sounders FC goalkeeper after the team had announced the signing of designated player Freddie Ljungberg and asked him about Ljungberg. The two faced each other in English Premier League play.
Keller said Ljungberg was part of a collection of stars at Arsenal, but he’ll have to make the adjustment to being the main man in Seattle.
“He was a big player with a bunch of other big players,” Keller said. “This is a different dynamic for him…I’m very excited to see how he transitions between major European football to MLS and it’s a big responsibility the club has put on him, making him designated player.”
Keller pointed out that the MLS designated player addition hasn’t always worked out well for the league or individual teams, but Ljungberg is better equipped to acclimate well to his new surroundings in Seattle.
“Being from a northern European country [Sweden] coming to Seattle will definitely help as opposed to maybe being Latin and coming up north,” Keller said. “It’s a little bit different ballgame coming from Spain or coming from Brazil and coming into Seattle as opposed to maybe some of the more warmer climates that they’re used to. So a lot of benefits, but like I said, a big responsibility that the club is putting on him.”
Keller assumed Ljungberg has scored on him before but couldn’t pinpoint exactly when.
“Freddie was more of an outside midlfielder when I played against him a lot of the time,” Keller said. “So it wasn’t so much that he was popping up in front of me as he was kind of out creating different scoring chances for their other guys.”
Ljungberg is expected to play center midfield for Seattle.
So was Keller at Ljungberg’s signing to show moral support for his new teammate?
“That’s exactly what it is,” Keller said. “This is about building the franchise, and I hope to be a part of this franchise long after I’m done playing. So this is all part of that…This is our team. We’re trying to build that family with the city and with the press, and I’m a part of that.”