He said that has continued so far, as he has returned to sip the local coffee as a member of the Chicago Fire, in to meet the Sounders tomorrow at Qwest Field.
Here's some of what Ljungberg had to say this afternoon about his return to Puget Sound and the business at hand.
How does it feel to be here as a member of the visiting team?It’s going to feel weird in one way, no question about it. But the little time that I’ve been back here in Seattle now, I just walked to Starbucks and everybody wanted to have a photo and they want to talk and they’re wishing me good luck. It just proves a little bit what a great time I had here, and how amazing the fans and the city have been.
Do you expect an equally warm reception tomorrow? You never know. You get into the stadium and you never know at all what reception you get when you get back. Of course, I can hope for something like that. I spoke to some people here and they were like, ‘They’ll probably be very nice to you in the beginning, and if the score is not going their way they’ll probably get on your back a little bit.' So we’ll see what happens.
Why has your offensive output increased in Chicago?I had a great time in Seattle, but since you asked what the difference is, I think the coach wants me maybe more for what I can contribute in that department a little bit and we play maybe a little bit more of an offensive game with the ball on the floor, which I really like. I think that’s a big part of it, and of course I have great teammates like I had in Seattle and they helped me out.
Steve Zakuani says tomorrow is going to be a special occasion and the media interest seems to support that: Zakuani is a great player and a great guy. It’s going to be nice to see him, and it’s going to be a special thing because they were my friends and teammates. As for the media, I think that’s part of the game and I have to think that you guys wouldn’t be happy if I’m not going to talk to any of you guys. I think that’s an important part of growing the game in America.
Is this going to feel like when you returned to Arsenal as a member of West Ham?For me that was an amazing day. I got like standing ovations and whatever you can imagine whenever I go back into the stadium. Of course, that was a very emotional day and I was there for 10 years, so that was very special. But in Seattle I just need to put aside my friendship with the players and everybody around for 90-95 minutes and try to just concentrate on my job to play well. Obviously that is the important part.Are you happy to be playing on grass again in Chicago?I never played on turf before in my life before I got to Seattle. I think when you look at the location of the stadium and the facility of the stadium and how you can have that level for the fans, I can understand we play in that stadium and there is turf. But of course I think soccer should be played on grass, there’s no question about it. But I think when you want to game to grow sometimes you can’t make everything exactly perfect. But if you build a stadium these days just for soccer, I definitely think it should be grass. What about the importance of this game in the MLS standings?I think we’ve played amazingly well lately. We lost unfortunately against Houston, 4-3, and we conceded three corners and a free kick, and apart from that we played amazingly well, to be honest we played Houston almost off the park, especially in the second half. And that’s something we need to learn from and not concede goals like that, but the playing-wise we played really really good, and a lot of belief. Seattle is a hard place to come out – I played here and I know that – but at the same time, we have I think three games in hand on Seattle and if we can go past them when we have a couple of games in hand with quite a lot of points. I see mostly there’s probably more pressure on Seattle to win the game than us, but of course we’re trying to win the game.