Freddie Ljungberg likely to miss opener and possibly more
Swede still a few weeks away from full strength after December hip surgery
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Fresh from a productive trip of exhibition matches and training in warm Argentina, Sounders FC got a blast of frigid air Monday in its first workout at Qwest Field since last month.
But the news of the day was who was with the team, not so much what was being worked on. Designated player Freddie Ljungberg, the team's highest-paid player with a $1.3 million base salary, was limited in practice in his first appearance with the team since undergoing hip surgery last December. Ljungberg is at least two weeks away from participating in a full practice, Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid said Monday.
That would put Ljungberg, who expects to play center midfield or striker for Seattle, out for the opener March 19, and likely longer. But the Swedish star feels his recovery is ahead of schedule.
"I could probably do everything in training, we just want to be careful in the beginning here, so I didn't play in the 11 against 11," Ljungberg told reporters. "But I could do everything else, so it was great."
Ljungberg, who did his rehabilitation work in London and most recently in Sweden with a lower-division club, added that he feels there's "nothing I can't do."
"I'm so much ahead of schedule that it looks too good to be true," he said. "They're a bit scared that if I do too much I'll have a setback. There is no pain in anything that I do, which is great, so that's why they want me to take it step-by-step."
Joining Ljungberg in his first appearance with the team at a practice in Seattle was veteran midfielder Peter Vagenas, who is coming back from knee surgery.
Schmid said the team will do more 11-on-11 work this week. The will use what it is calling a "technical rehearsal and training game" on Thursday at Qwest Field against Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids.
Gold Cup headed
Qwest Field will host a CONCACAF Gold Cup doubleheader July 4, a pair of games in group play leading up to the championship of the North American Soccer region.
The stadium last hosted Gold Cup matches in 2005 when the U.S. men's national team joined Canada, Costa Rica and Cuba in preliminary round group play. Twelve other venues around the nation will host games, and the Gold Cup championship match is July 26 at Giants Stadium in New Jersey.
Sounders FC to host U.S. Open Cup match
Seattle drew MLS foe Real Salt Lake in a qualifying match for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tournament, scheduled for April 28 at the Starfire Sports complex in Tukwila.
Pre-sale tickets will be offered to season-ticket holders before being made available to the general public on March 30 at 10 a.m. All tickets are general admission and priced at $15. There will be limited seating capacity.
The top six Major League Soccer teams from 2008 qualified for the Open Cup, while Sounders FC and the seven other MLS teams in the U.S. must qualify to reach the tournament. If Seattle defeats Salt Lake, it will play the winner of the Colorado-Los Angeles Galaxy match for the opportunity to reach the round of 16. The other play-in bracket features the New York Red Bulls at the San Jose Earthquakes and FC Dallas at D.C. United.
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 8:54 PM
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