Sounders FC

Ljungberg will likely return Sunday against Houston

TUKWILA – Major League Soccer’s two newest designated players are expected to face each other for the first time Sunday, when Seattle Sounders FC visits the league-leading Houston Dynamo.

The game is expected to mark the MLS debut of Luis Angel Landin, who was introduced Thursday as the Dynamo’s first designated player.

Meanwhile, Sounders midfielder Freddie Ljungberg said Friday that he expects to travel with his teammates and play at least a half in Houston.

Ljungberg had missed the Sounders’ previous two games due to vision and memory problems, which he said have now been diagnosed.

“I am hyperglycemic,” he said. “It’s the opposite of diabetes, so I can’t eat too much sugar. It’s a bit boring to explain it, but ... when you are hyperglycemic you need to eat good food all the time. So, what we did is we went to the airport and I just got some bagels, which do not really help me. When I got (to Los Angeles), my body crashed. That’s what happens. My body goes into a starving mode, and then it shuts down the organs. It’s the memory that goes first.”

Ljungberg took part in all Sounders training Friday. Coach Sigi Schmid said he will watch how his midfielder feels this morning when he returns for a brief training session.

“That will make the determination about him traveling with us to Houston,” Schmid said. “Obviously, if he travels with us we would expect him to play. We’ve got to be a little bit cautious because of the heat and the humidity down there, which can dehydrate you.”

The Houston forecast calls for a high temperature around 95.

That kind of heat won’t be anything new for Landin, whom Houston acquired from Cruz Azul of Mexico.

“For a Mexican player he’s a bit of a bigger striker, and he’s scored some goals and he’s had some success,” Schmid said. “... He’s certainly going to add to their team. He gives them another striker, somebody next to (Brian) Ching. We’ll be ready for him. We’ll have some clips on him. We’ve already dug up some stuff.”

At 24, Landin is the second-youngest of the 19 players with Mexican national team experience to join MLS (behind Juan Pablo Garcia, who was 23 when he joined Chivas USA). Terms of the contract were not announced; however, he is on loan through the end of the 2010 season, when the Dynamo will have the option of acquiring his full rights.

“The thought process was not so much let’s go out and land a (designated player),” Houston general manager Oliver Luck said in a phone interview. “The thought process was what do we think we need to have as strong of a team as possible as we go into this last quarter of the season and into the playoffs. Like everybody else we want to win MLS Cup – that’s our goal.”

Added time

After the Sounders’ 1-0 loss to New England on Thursday, Schmid said he might do a little shouting the next day.

On Friday, he lived up to his word.

After practice, Schmid had his team line up across the touchline and then march in a line across the pitch. When they got to the other side, he kept them in formation and had an animated conversation that lasted about 20 minutes.

“That was just a little sports psych exercise that we did,” Schmid said. “It’s just for us. As I’ve said before to (the media) a lot of times, the difference between winning and losing a lot of times is small, it’s not big. It’s not big things that change games, it’s little things that change games. Just putting the re-emphasis on that, on why we’re getting so close and not finishing our chances, what’s going amiss there. There were some good points brought up by the players, so I feel very good about that.”

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

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