Back in July, Seattle Sounders midfielder Freddie Ljungberg was dumped for a conditional draft pick in a trade with the Chicago Fire. All sorts of talk and rumors fluttered around the move, given Ljungberg's profile and All-Star status.
On Saturday night, Ljungberg is set to make his first return to Seattle with his Fire teammates. And there doesn't seem to be a consensus as to how the return will go down.
First, Andrew Winner of MLSsoccer.com reports that Sounders vet Peter Vagenas is welcoming his former teammate with open arms.
"From a player's point of view, we feel like we lost a great player and it was sad to see him go."
"I'm pretty sure everyone's going to welcome him," Vagenas said. "I'm sure he'll get a standing ovation-he deserves it, because he was part of something."
But fellow Sounders veteran Jeff Parke doesn't quite see the same rosy situation.
"You could sense that there was [a divide] maybe a little bit," Parke said. "I wasn't too familiar with everything because the year before, I wasn't here and when I came, I was only with the team for a month or so. I didn't really get a read on what was going on.
"When I was here, everyone was professional. Maybe they had some differences off the field, but when they were on the field. Maybe he and a couple of the guys didn't get along, but it wasn't noticeable and they didn't make it seen out in public."
Opinions on the true cause that led to Ljungberg’s departure vary. Parke chalked it up to "egos," saying that it was a situation involving "guys who want to be the top dog and get talked about the most."
Winner reports on Twitter that Parke took it a step further, saying that Ljungberg had such strained relationships with certain members of the Sounders that they likely could not be cordial to this day.
Parke on #ljungberg and unnamed #sounders: "If they saw each other on the street, they would walk past each other and not say hello."
Todd Dybas of Seattle PI.com quotes Sounders coach Sigi Schmid on the stressing of tensions between Ljungberg and one teammate in particular prior to this summer's trade.
"Sometimes things for whatever reasons, just like a marriage, sometimes things don't entirely work out the way you want them."
One marriage that had its bumps was the proposed one between Fredy Montero and Ljungberg. Since being separated, both have moved into a central position just under the striker where each have flourished.
"It's a role Freddie Ljungberg is more comfortable in now and it's also a role that Montero is more comfortable in," Schmid said. "We tried to have that work. Tried to get Montero and Ljungberg on there and it was successful at times.
From a potential standing ovation to a head-to-head clash of egos, Saturday could go a bunch of different directions.
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