All-Star midfielder Freddie Ljungberg was ejected for picking up back-to-back yellow cards at Qwest Field.
A feeling came over Sigi Schmid Saturday afternoon at Qwest Field as he watched Chicago Fire midfielder John Thorrington draw a second yellow card and be ejected from the Sounders FC-Fire match in the 54th minute.
It wasn’t a good one for the Seattle coach.
“I told our coaches on the bench that somewhere, somehow, today we’re going to get a red card,” Schmid said.
Schmid’s prediction came true. In the 59th minute, midfielder Freddie Ljungberg was on a run toward the goal when he appeared to be tripped up. The yellow card came out against Ljungberg for what referee Baldomero Toledo ruled was a dive in trying to draw a foul on his defender. Ljungberg raised his hands to his head in protest and, as he said, trotted away pounding his chest.
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In an instant, a second yellow card was produced and Ljungberg was ejected, leaving both the Fire and Sounders FC with 10 players. Two missed scoring chances by Sounders FC and 34 minutes later, the match ended as the first scoreless draw in club history in front of a crowd of 32,405 and an ESPN audience.
“I thought it was an unfortunate decision by the referee,” a hoarse Schmid said after the game. “I noticed he had a nice chat at halftime with [Chicago’s Cuauhtemoc] Blanco. He was walking away and Blanco called him back and he turned around and it was tough for me to get a word in at the end of the game, but he found time for Blanco at halftime.”
Blanco, Ljungberg’s designated player counterpart for the Fire, has a reputation for veteran tricks and attempts to draw fouls in questionable ways, a fact not lost on Schmid. Both Blanco and Ljungberg are 2009 Major League Soccer All-Stars.
“When you look at the NBA and you look at some other sports that are around, I think there’s a certain respect factor that’s sometimes given to an established player,” Schmid said. “Obviously there was respect given to some experienced players on the field; unfortunately, they weren’t in a green uniform.”
Schmid said he asked Toledo what Ljungberg said, and was told that it was “too much.”
Ljungberg skulked off the field to an ovation from the Rave Green faithful and after the game was resigned to the fact that he’ll miss Sounders FC’s next match after picking up his fifth caution of the season. Sounders FC is at San Jose next Sunday when regular-season play resumes after the All-Star break.
“I don’t think any of them were deserved,” Ljungberg said of his yellow cards, claiming that the Fire player bumped him into the air with his backside. “I just have to rise above it. … It’s sad he [Toledo] is destroying a beautiful game.”
Ljungberg has had issues with MLS officials in previous games, but said he couldn’t just walk away from being carded without caring, even if he said nothing.
“Then I wouldn’t care to win the game,” Ljungberg said, “and that’s not me. I always want to win, and it’s important for us to do well in this league. If that’s a free kick just outside the box for us, we can score and we can win the game. I need to be concerned about that.”
Ejections aside, both teams missed opportunities to score, Sounders FC more than Chicago. Seattle’s best chance of the second half was a long shot by Fredy Montero in the 80th minute that glanced off the far post. Seattle had another good crack at a goal, but a header and deflection off a corner kick was cleared out from the end line.
“Unfortunately we just weren’t sharp in that final pass, that final shot,” forward Nate Jaqua, “and that’s how it is sometimes.”
Sounders FC 0, Fire 0
|Chicago||0 0 — 0|
|Seattle Sounders FC||0 0 — 0|
First half — None. Second half — None. Goalies — Chicago, Jon Busch; Seattle FC, Kasey Keller. Yellow cards — Hurtado, Seattle FC, 29th; Segares, Chicago, 40th; Thorrington, Chicago, 41st; Thorrington, Chicago, 55th; Ljungberg, Seattle FC, 59th; Ljungberg, Seattle FC, 59th. Red cards — Thorrington, Chicago, 55th; Ljungberg, Seattle FC, 60th. Total shots — Seattle 15, Chicago 11. Shots on goal — Seattle 5, Chicago 2. Fouls — Seattle 17, Chicago 15. Offsides — Seattle 3, Chicago 0. Corner kicks — Seattle 8, Chicago 5. Saves — Chicago 5, Seattle 2. Referee — Baldomero Toledo. Assistant referees — David Bragg. Jeff Hosking. 4th Official — Alejandro Mariscal. A — 32,405 (33,000)
Chicago — Jon Busch, John Thorrington, Tim Ward, Chris Rolfe, Baggio Husidic (Brandon Prideaux, 65th), Wilman Conde, Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Calen Carr, 86th), Patrick Nyarko, Marco Pappa (Justin Mapp, 78th), C.J. Brown, Gonzalo Segares.
Seattle FC — Kasey Keller, Patrick Ianni, Nathan Sturgis (Peter Vagenas, 68th), Tyson Wahl, Steve Zakuani (Sebastien Le Toux, 75th), Fredy Montero, Osvaldo Alonso, Nate Jaqua (Roger Levesque, 89th), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, James Riley, Freddie Ljungberg.