After Thursday’s opener, Philadelphia head coach Peter Nowak blasted Seattle’s Freddie Ljungberg for dramatizing his injuries. While the Swede didn't want to address those comments at length, the fluid accumulating in Ljungberg’s lower back would seem to refute Nowak’s assessment.
Ljungberg and Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid talked about the midfielder’s physical condition on Tuesday, just days leading up to the team’s matchup against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday at Qwest Field.
“I don’t feel great," said Ljungberg, who jogged lightly on the side Tuesday while his teammates practiced. "Of course, I had a kick in my lower spine and it is still swollen. We have had X-rays and MRIs on it and there are fluids in the spine and it affects the nerves a little bit. When I try to walk up stairs, my leg buckles and that was the same problem in the game. I couldn’t push on my right leg. It’s getting better and, according to the doctors, if we can get the fluid away I can play.”
Ljungberg said he’s hopeful to play Saturday night against New York, but the injury suffered during the season opener last Thursday forced him out of the match early in the second half with Seattle holding a 2-0 lead. He said that pain is not the issue, but that the nerve problems are affecting the feeling in his right leg.
Schmid wants to see if Ljungberg can participate fully in training on Thursday before making a decision on Saturday night’s game. That decision, however, is dependent on the dissipation of the fluid in Ljungberg’s back.
“I think I turned a corner yesterday or overnight,” Ljungberg said. “I couldn’t even walk up stairs yesterday and today I could have a small jog. It hurt a little bit, but not too bad. Like I said, they say if the fluid gets flushed out—I need to move my body to get it to flush out—then I will be playing.”
Should Ljungberg be unable to go, there are a number of contenders to replace him in the starting lineup. Sanna Nyassi and Michael Fucito would add an attacking element to Seattle’s game and could play up front beside Fredy Montero.
Should Seattle choose to insert another center midfielder and re-deploy Brad Evans to the wing or up front, Stephen King or Pete Vagenas could fill that role.
Roger Levesque is another option up front for Seattle, which placed Nate Jaqua on the injured list prior to the first game of the season. Rookie David Estrada is another versatile choice, as is Pat Noonan, who is currently out of contract and is on trial with the club.
In any case, Schmid wants to wait a couple more days before making any contingency plans.
“We will see on Thursday,” Schmid said. “If he is able to go full out on Thursday, then I think we will see Freddie Ljungberg on Saturday.”