Sounders trade designated player, 2-time All-Star Freddie Ljungberg to Chicago Fire

The Seattle Sounders traded two-time MLS All-Star Freddie Ljungberg to the Chicago Fire on Friday for a conditional pick in the 2011 or 2012 SuperDraft.

The Sounders announced the departure of the 33-year-old former Arsenal star on Friday.

Ljungberg hadn't practiced with the Sounders for weeks while he rehabilitated an ankle injury on his own. His quiet exit from Seattle for a draft choice contrasted with his hyped entrance to the city and MLS in October 2008.

That month, the former Premier League winner with the Gunners became expansion Seattle's first designated player. His signing was seen as the latest coup for MLS, which started play in 1996.

Ljungberg finished fourth in MLS with nine assists in the Sounders' inaugural season in 2009.

But he's done little this season. He had three assists in 15 games while the Sounders struggled. He hasn't played since July 4, and his Seattle contract was set to expire in November.

"Freddie is a tremendous individual and an exceptional player who contributed greatly to the huge success of Sounders FC, both on and off the field, in the past year and a half," Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer said in a statement. "Freddie, along with Kasey Keller, gave this club immediate stature in the world's game, and we are grateful for his service. We wish him all the best in Chicago."

The Sounders may see Ljungberg again soon. The Fire visit Seattle on Aug. 28.

"I want to start off by saying how proud I am to have been part of the most successful new franchise in MLS history, the Seattle Sounders FC," Ljungberg was quoted as saying in the statement, referring to Seattle regularly drawing MLS crowds of 30,000-plus since it began play. "I didn't know exactly what to expect when I first came to Seattle but I have to say that how the city and the fans have embraced me has gone beyond my wildest dreams and for that I am forever grateful.

"I also want to thank my teammates who are absolutely great on and off the pitch. I have made some very close friends who I know I will be in contact with forever."

Seattle added new midfielder Alvaro Fernandez to the active roster. The 24-year-old, who played for Uruguay at the World Cup, was acquired Thursday. He has received his international transfer paperwork and is eligible to play Saturday night at San Jose.