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July 20, 2010 at 12:57 PM

Talking to Sounders FC technical director Chris Henderson about the outgoing Freddie Ljungberg (Q&A transcript)

How did we come to this point, where Freddie is considering his options to leave the Sounders? “I think things have happened with the team and Freddie’s been nursing his injury a little bit, and now he’s decided with his agent to look at other options. So he’s going to continue to do that. He’s still going to be around here, he’s still part of our team. He’s going to do some training, also, on his own with staff. But I think he’s going to be open to other options.”

This is your DP and internationally known player, how did he fall out of favor? “I think it’s things that happen within a team. I don’t want to discuss internal things with the team. I had teammates when I played, you have expectations and sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, there’s combinations of injuries with the team and why things didn’t go as successful as we thought this year. I think at times you have to make changes to improve yourself too, and we’re always looking to do that at the same time. Freddie’s a great player and he played great last year leading into the playoff run, trying to get us into the playoffs, he was an integral part of that. A lot of times things go into it with Sigi and the coaching staff with certain ways the team wants to play and certain formations that work best for our club. Those are discussions that come into it too.”

Does he have any future here at all? “I think it’s day to day. We have to see what comes, where he’s at and what options are there. If something comes where it’s a great option for him, we’ll talk it over with him together and make a decision. We’re all still open to everything. Our goal is to get a playoff spot and whatever way that is for us to do — whether it’s with him or without him — we need to do what’s best for the club. It’s really day to day.”

Recently the team has played well without Freddie, is Sounders FC better without him? “It’s hard to say. We could’ve had the same results or better with him in there or without. In soccer things change so quick. For sure, the team camaraderie and spirit of the team is big no matter when we are in the season, and the level is so close in our league that those are things that can turn so fast, is the team confidence and belief in each other. Who’s to say? I don’t really know if that plays into the results lately or not.”

How does this team weigh the responsibilities of a DP (Philly coach Peter Nowak has reportedly favored DP targets willing to help soccer grow and improve in this country), did he fall short of extra expectations off the field? “Every club has their ideas on what they want from their DP. I think with us we’re looking for success on the field. And for sure you want a guy that’s good in the community and is going to entertain, but with each team having the potential of three DPs, you could have three different kinds of players and three different kinds of role models. I think every club is different. What Philly has there and if they’re looking at them, they’re probably looking at a completely different guy for their market than we’d look for our market. Getting any kind of foreigner, whether he’s a DP or not, you never know how they’re going to adjust on the field to our league here or off the field. Some people are coming with families, like Blaise. Some people are just single guys who just focus on playing. There’s a lot of things that go into the success on the field of a foreign player.”

Are there potential distractions of Ljungberg’s day-to-day explorations, and is there a deadline for a decision? “Well there’s a transfer window, so that’s one piece of it. But I think our guys have been pretty good. With Freddie, all the guys like him, everybody gets along. As a player, you’re always focused on your job. How you’re doing. So a lot of times the thought isn’t what everyone else is doing because you’re so focused on, ‘I got to get myself right for Saturday and the game.’ Whether it’s a distraction, things like that, I think most of the guys, they want to get in the 11 and be a starter. I think the spirit and mood of the team has been pretty good this year, even if the results have been inconsistent. The team has been good, and they’re close.”


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