Yes, Ljungberg was all smiles today after practice, talking about how happy he is to be back with the team. But he has some smoothing over to do with teammates, Kasey Keller in particular.
Let me back up. Ljungberg said that his biggest reason for not reporting to the team last Monday in time for the start of camp is because the MLS CBA negotiations have not been completed. He was waiting for some kind of development so that he could turn down offers from European team and return to fulfill the second and final year of his contract.
Ljungberg said the CBA situation has been annoying, but he had to look out for his own interests and field offers from other teams, especially since he’s 32 years old and didn’t want to be taking time off from playing.
“If there’s a lockout, I can’t just sit here and do nothing,” he said. Then he got wind of the extension of the negotiations to Feb. 12 and decided to come to Seattle.
Ljungberg took some ribbing from teammates when he got to practice today but said he didn’t really take a week off, he was still working on his conditioning.
Jokes aside, there are some internal issues to deal with. Last week, goalkeeper Kasey Keller was critical of Ljungberg not being in camp, saying he’d rather have a a guy with less talent who wants to be with the team then someone with more who doesn’t.
The two team leaders, Keller and Ljungberg, have spoken, but it’s clear there is more to be worked out.
“To me personally, that’s what you take internally and that’s disappointing, someone talking like that. But…we’re all on the same page,” Ljungberg said.
Keller, the team captain, called today “another day of training,” but said, “For us as players, we just come out and play with the guys that are here.”
The conversation that he and Ljungberg had is private, Keller said.