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Seattle Sounders vs Chicago Fire: Preview

Freddie Ljungberg returns to Seattle tonight as the Chicago Fire face the Sounders at Qwest Field. While the Sounders may have barely flinched at Ljungberg's leaving, welcoming in Alvaro Ferndandez as their newest DP, the Fire certainly haven't been hampered by the addition of the Swede, who is playing in a more forward position than he assumed in Seattle.

The teams meet tonight fighting for a playoff spot, with Seattle standing in fifth in the West, and Chicago at fourth in the East. The Sounders however, are seventh overall, while the Fire are in ninth.

Although the Sounders fell to Monterrey 2-0 in their midweek CONCACAF Champions League match, they remain undefeated in their last six league matches. Chicago lost 4-3 to Houston last week, ending a three game unbeaten streak that had began when Ljungberg joined the team. Can Ljungberg bring more luck to his new team against his former squad?

Freddie has more freedom to roam in his new role at Chicago. There's none of that stodgy 4-4-2 showing up when the Fire take the field--instead, Ljungberg roams just behind the traditional striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Throwing this formation up against the Sounders typical 4-4-2 could already result in a few problems, but one of the biggest worries is that Seattle is missing a key defender. Leo Gonzalez is out due to an unfair red card shown in the last league match, against Chivas USA. Although referee Prus has since come out and said that the card was a mistake, it has not been rescinded and Gonzalez won't be on the pitch. Instead, the Sounders will likely field Zach Scott, a noticeable downgrade in quality.

Steve Zakuani, out with an injury for the past two weeks, is expected to play, but he likely will not start. Instead Sanna Nyassi will be on the right wing, with Fernandez on the left and Osvaldo Alonso in central midfield. Blaise Nkufo and Fredy Montero will lead the attack while Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke and James Riley are expected to round out the defense.

For more pre-game coverage, visit Sounder at Heart.