SEATTLE – Fredrik Ljungberg made it official Oct. 28 as he joined the expansion Seattle Sounder of Major League Soccer
The 31-year-old former captain of Sweden signed a two-year deal for $2.5 million a year. He is the new team’s Designated Player, meaning his salary does not count against a league-mandated salary cap. The new rule allowed the Los Angeles Galaxy to sign David Beckham from Real Madrid.
"I wanted a new experience and I think it will be good for me,” Ljungberg said in a conference call with reporters. “I felt if I was going to do this as a sincere thing, I should go now. I shouldn't go in three years when I'm past my peak.
Ljungberg has yet to touch a soccer ball professionally since West Ham United in the English Premier League released him over the summer. He retired from the Swedish national team following the 2008 European Championships in June.
Sounders co-owner and Hollywood director Joe Roth compared the signing of Ljungberg to the deal that took Beckham to the Galaxy in the summer of 2007.
"I would say in terms of significance to the league, he is certainly one of the two significant European players to come so far," Roth said.
Roth and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen back the Sounders, as well as a number of minority owners including comedian Drew Carey.
Seattle joins MLS next season as the league's 15th team and has already sold more than 17,000 season tickets.
Ljungberg joins former Tottenham and Borussia Monchengladbach goalkeeper Kasey Keller - a Seattle native - as well as Gambia midfielder Sanna Nyassi and French striker Sebastien Le Toux as the only players on the club’s roster at present.