Seattle Sounders FC unveiled its designated player, Swedish international Freddie Ljungberg, Tuesday, reports Jose Miguel Romero. The $2.5 million a year midfielder duly declared that he's here to help improve the quality and the profile of Major League Soccer.
"I figured if I'm going to take MLS seriously and want to make it a really good league and develop it, I should come now and not in three years' time," said Ljungberg, 31. "It took me three months to come to a decision of what I wanted to do, but the guys here [team executives] have helped me in my decision by showing me around the city and what they want to do with the team."
Ljungberg, who scored 72 goals in nine seasons in the English Premier League for Arsenal, and who has played in two World Cups for Sweden, said he was swayed toward Seattle by the impressive number of season tickets (17,000) the team has already sold. Furthermore, the city reminds him of his homeland. "I lived at the waterfront when I was young," he said. "It's quite similar to the Swedish nature. I need to feel happy where I am, and I think I'm going to be happy here."
Sounders FC majority owner Joe Roth initially thought the team might not find the kind of designated player it wanted. "You want someone who's not a gimmick," said Roth. "You want someone who is still playing at the top of his career. We don't need anyone to come in here and sell tickets because the people of Seattle have embraced the team."