Freddie Ljungberg's back still aching after being kneed by Philadelphia
Sounders FC forward Freddie Ljungberg's back is still swollen despite four days of treatment, and he could miss Saturday's home game against New York.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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TUKWILA — Freddie Ljungberg is still hurting.
The Sounders FC forward was forced to leave last week's season opener against Philadelphia in the 60th minute after being kneed in the lower back. Despite four days of treatment and rehab, the swelling hasn't subsided and has kept him from resuming full training.
Safe to say that Ljungberg didn't take well to Union coach Peter Nowak's comments insinuating that he was flopping.
"What can I say? It's just laughable," Ljungberg said Tuesday at the Starfire Sports Complex. "When I heard it, I laughed. I just think it's too low and pathetic to respond to."
Now the question is if his body will recover in time for Saturday's 7:30 p.m. home game against New York at Qwest Field.
The buildup of fluid around Ljungberg's spine isn't painful, he said, but has limited the use of his right leg. Until recently, he struggled to walk up a set of stairs.
During Tuesday's training, he jogged for the first time, but a lot more progress will have to be made before Ljungberg is ready to play.
"Even though we are off tomorrow, he will probably come in and do some work," said coach Sigi Schmid. "We will see on Thursday. If he is able to go full out on Thursday, then I think we will see Freddie Ljungberg on Saturday."
Ljungberg said he knew five minutes after being kneed that it wouldn't be an injury he could easily shake off. Despite the rough play in the opener, Ljungberg hasn't complained about the physical nature of Major League Soccer, but did say the sport is better without it.
"I personally have the view that it is supposed to be a technical game," he said. "If you're not quick enough and you have to foul, that should be reprimanded."
He added: "You probably get away with a little more here tackling-wise than you would in the EPL (English Premier League)."
Schmid said if Ljungberg isn't available Saturday, there are several capable replacements, including Sanna Nyassi and Michael Fucito.
"We have depth and we have other players," Schmid said. "And that's the reason for those guys being on the team."
Local product relishes training
Sean Okoli, a 17-year-old junior from Todd Beamer High School in Federal Way, is having the best spring break.
Okoli, who also goes by his middle name "Ugo," is a 5-foot-11 forward on the Sounders FC U-18 academy team. Recently he has trained with the senior team and even played in the second half of the team's 3-1 reserve-game win against Oregon State on Friday.
Despite holding his own in training, Okoli has had his share of wide-eyed moments too.
"Marking up Fredy Montero and changing right next to him in the locker room is pretty mind-blowing," he said. "And shooting against Kasey Keller."
• Toronto will host the 2010 MLS Cup, the league announced Tuesday.
• Defender Jeff Parke has returned to training after a trip to New York, where he was named to the Red Bulls' all-time team. Parke is still unsigned.
• Nate Jaqua was not in training for the second straight day. On Monday, Schmid said the forward/midfielder will seek a second opinion on his lower abdominal injury.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com
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