With the international transfer window opening Thursday, Major League Soccer is jammed with personnel rumors, including one that has Sounders FC designated player Freddie Ljungberg on his way to the New York Red Bulls.
And on Monday, neither Ljungberg nor Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer dismissed such a possibility.
Ljungberg: “We’ll see what happens. It’s a transfer window, and my contract is up here in November. We’ll see what happens.”
Hanauer: “We are anxious to turn things around, and however we can turn them around, we’re going to do. Ljungberg is not unique. We have teams calling about different players, and we’re calling about different players. So, all options are on the table.”
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Ljungberg is in his second season of a two-year contract with Seattle. He is by far the highest-paid Sounder with a base salary of $1.3 million, according to figures from the MLS Players Union.
After spending more than a decade in the English Premier League, he moved to MLS last season, recording two goals and nine assists, and was named to the league’s Best XI and the All-Star team.
This season, he has no goals and three assists in 15 appearances.
He was held out of the Dallas game Sunday because of what was called a tweaked left ankle. That absence added to speculation that he was being held out while awaiting trade or transfer.
The idea of a move to New York was fueled by the Red Bulls’ public declaration that they are interested in signing a third designated player, who sporting director Erik Soler described as a versatile midfielder who is “not yet out of contract.”
By moving Ljungberg, the Sounders would open a designated player spot, a foreign player spot and create salary cap room that could allow for the acquisition of other players.
Hanauer said last week that he hopes to make at least one impact signing during this transfer period, which continues until Aug. 14.
He also said it also is possible that at least one current Sounder could depart at about the same time.
The club could be especially willing to juggle its roster in light of a disappointing 4-8-4 start, which placed Seattle 11th in a league of 16 teams. Only the top eight qualify for the playoffs.
With familiar faces unable to recreate the results of the club’s expansion season, Hanauer and coach Sigi Schmid each seemed intrigued by the energy a mostly reserve lineup brought in a U.S. Open Cup victory over Los Angeles last week.
And Schmid followed up by moving rookies Michael Seamon and Miguel Montaño into the Sounders’ starting lineup that drew with FC Dallas on Sunday.
Overall, six of the starters and two substitutes were 25 or younger, while no field player was older than 29.
However, making way for the youngsters also meant benching veterans such as Tyrone Marshall, a 35-year-old defender who had started 39 of Seattle’s previous 41 league games.
“Obviously, it wasn’t a good feeling,” Marshall said after training Monday. “You want to be out there playing. But … the guys who played the game on Wednesday against L.A., coach thought they did well, so he gave them an opportunity to get on the field again.
“You know, when you’re struggling you have to look for any edge that you can to get back on the winning track.”
The Sounders will travel to Washington, D.C., today in advance of their Thursday game at D.C. United. The club will be joined there by Swiss striker Blaise Nkufo, who could be eligible to make his MLS debut Thursday. … Ljungberg practiced Monday, but Schmid said his status for D.C. depends on how the injured ankle responds. … Seamon, who also suffered an ankle injury, is considered day-to-day. Schmid added that Nate Jaqua and Osvaldo Alonso aren’t yet at full fitness after returning from injuries. … After watching replays, Schmid said Montano’s red card Sunday was “unacceptable” and “something he has to learn from and he has to grow from.”
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer