Freddie Ljungberg was disappointed because, as he said, Sounders FC "couldn't show what a good soccer team we were."

HOUSTON — Sounders FC midfielder Freddie Ljungberg, not one to hold back his opinion too often, gave the Houston Dynamo credit for its playoff win Sunday. Then he took exception to the officiating and the field.

Ljungberg was a favorite target of the Dynamo defense, which played him aggressively. Already the most-fouled player in the league during the regular season, Ljungberg was knocked around and got a few calls, and then didn’t.

“The game was a big brawl, it was not much of a football game,” Ljungberg said. “I don’t want to be a bad loser. I congratulate them and I wish them all the best, but it was mostly a big brawl and probably the pitch didn’t make it any easier.”

Ljungberg was disappointed because, as he said, Sounders FC “couldn’t show what a good soccer team we were.”

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He was critical of the sand used on the worn pitch.

The Sounders FC designated player also wouldn’t fully commit to a return to the team next season, but reiterated that he loves the city and hopes to be back. He’ll consider playing for another club in Europe before the next MLS season.

Drew Carey: “These guys played like studs”

In the dank visitor’s locker room at Robertson Stadium, it was difficult for Sounders FC players and executives to put into words the pain of the club’s season having ended.

But there was one ray of light. The future of the Rave Green.

Coach Sigi Schmid was asked moments after the game when he starts working for next season.

“Three minutes ago,” Schmid said. “Next year begins now. You learn from things that happened [Sunday]. … We’ll feed off it and we’ll be a better team as a result of this.

“We don’t want to accept mediocrity. Our goal is always to win a championship, and the sting of today will hopefully help us as we move forward into next year.”

Minority owner Drew Carey said everyone in the franchise has reason to be proud. He said that he felt the winner of the Seattle-Houston series would win the MLS Cup.

“These guys played like studs,” Carey said. “They have great heart. I love watching these guys play. It’s tough being an MLS player.”

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com