MLS Best XI midfielder Freddie Ljungberg is questionable for Sounders FC's game Saturday against New York due to a back injury suffered in the opener against Philadelphia.
“I don’t feel great,” Ljungberg said Tuesday. “Of course, I had a kick in my lower spine and it is still swollen. We have 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.”
Adding insult to the injury were comments by Philadelphia manager Peter Nowak, implying that Ljungberg was faking to draw a yellow card.
“What can I say? It’s just laughable,” Ljungberg said. “When I heard about it, I just laughed. I just think it’s too low and pathetic to respond, to be honest.”
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said if Ljungberg is able to participate fully in practice Thursday, then he is likely to play against the Red Bulls.
Otherwise, Schmid said he has a variety of options. He could start Sanna Nyassi, who came on for Ljungberg in the 60th minute against the Union. Or Roger Levseque could move up front and someone else could move in at right midfield. Or Michael Fucito or David Estrada could move into Ljungberg’s spot.
Soon, Schmid also could have the added option of MLS veteran forward/midfielder Pat Noonan, who was released by Colorado last week and has been training with the Sounders this week.
Noonan said Tuesday that a contract is in the works, although there has been no announcement by the club.
However, if the signing becomes official, Noonan and Schmid agreed that he could be ready to play Saturday night at Qwest Field.
“I sure hope so,” Noonan said. “That remains to be seen, but hopefully if training goes well I’ll be selected.”
The club also seems close to a decision on defender Jeff Parke, who was selected in the 2009 expansion draft but has not signed a contact despite training periods with Seattle last season and this spring when a signing seemed imminent.
“It’s just a matter of agreeing to a contract,” Parke said. “They’ve offered me a contract, but we have to meet on terms and length and everything. There’s a little bit more to a contract than I thought back when I first started (when) it was, ‘Ahh, I’ll sign it.’ Now you have to set yourself up for the next two to three years. It’s not as easy as everybody thinks it is. ... But this is where I want to be, and MLS is my next step, and hopefully we can work things out.”
Parke also said that he’ll be ready to play as soon as the contract is signed.
Meanwhile, defender James Riley went through the entire training session after being limited Monday due to a tender hamstring. He is expected to be back in the starting lineup Saturday after missing the opener due to a red card suspension held over from the final playoff game of the 2009 season.
“James is a very important part of our team because of his ability to defend and hold down the right back spot for us last year,” Schmid said. “But also he is very helpful as we are bringing the ball forward.”
After one day on grass, the Sounders shifted to their FieldTurf pitch at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila. They are off today and then will train at Qwest Field on Thursday. ... This season’s MLS Cup title game was officially awarded Tuesday to BMO Field in Toronto. The game will kick off at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 21. ... Manchester United is in negotiations to provide the opposition in this season’s MLS All-Star Game at Reliant Stadium in Houston on either July 29 or Aug. 5, the Houston Chronicle reported. If negotiations fail, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Chivas de Guadalajara or Club America also are reportedly planning to tour the U.S. this summer.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808