Retaining Ljungberg a major MLS coup

STEVEN SANDOR, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:52 PM ET

Whew.

That’s the sound that was heard Tuesday from Major League Soccer’s marketing staff when Freddie Ljungberg, the second only to David Beckham in terms of star power in the league, announced he would indeed be returning to play with Seattle Sounders FC.

In doing so, the former Arsenal “Invincible” diffused speculation of labour strife in the league. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement Expires next week.

“I’m very grateful to all the clubs who have shown a great interest in my services but, as I’ve always said, I want to go back to America and play for Seattle,” Ljungberg posted on his website, Freddie Speaks Up! “Based on the latest news I’ve heard from both sides, there won’t be a lockout or strike on Feb 1. So, from Feb. 1, I will be with my team in Seattle trying to help them become the best team in America.”

Ljungberg helped Arsenal to its undefeated 2003-04 English premier League campaign and, as a former Calvin Klein model, has a massive international profile.

And, he was an All-Star in his first season, transforming Seattle into a contender in year one of its existence.

With Beckham on yet another extended loan spell at AC Milan — and possibly on World Cup duty with England for a good chunk of the summer — Ljungberg takes over as the de facto No. 1 superstar in MLS.

When he didn’t show up for the opening of Seattle’s training camp, he had said he was waiting to see what was going to happen with CBA negotiations.

Still, Ljungberg made no secret of the fact that he’s frustrated with the lack of progress in talks between the league and the union.

“ It’s been a big surprise how long the negotiations have been going on and no agreement has been reached. All that the players are asking for is FIFA rights! Every football player in the world that I know of plays under those rules, big or small leagues. So when I thought an agreement would be signed in a second… How wrong was I...”

TFC won't sign Binstock

Canadian goalkeeper Nils Binstock had his trial with Toronto FC, but won't be sticking with the club.

The Burlington, Ont. keeper was invited to a preseason goalkeeping combine held at Lamport Stadium.

"I felt I played well but Toronto FC decided to go in a different direction," said Binstock, who remains thankful that the club asked him to come out.

Binstock had an outstanding year for Iona College, posting a stellar 0.66 GAA. But, with Iona being such a small school, he wasn't asked to the MLS Combine and knew he wasn't going to go in the Superdraft.

The former Toronto Lynx keeper will now weigh his options.


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