Ljungberg and Nowak continue war of words

Freddie Ljungberg (ISIphotos.com)

Photo by ISIphotos.com

Peter Nowak's public criticism of Freddie Ljungberg after last week's 2-0 loss by Nowak's Philadelphia Union against Ljungberg's Sounders figured to cause a stir, but the lingering bad blood fostered by those comments and Ljungberg's response has led to an on-going war of words.

On one side you have Ljungberg, who criticized what he thought was over-the-top physical play by Philadelphia. On the other side you have Nowak, who accused Ljungberg of diving and trying to influence referees with play-acting.

Nowak went right after Ljungberg after the match with some scathing comments. Ljungberg then wrote on his blog about the injury to his back he blamed on a hard first-half foul. Ljungberg then followed up by calling Nowak's comments "low" and "pathetic".

Here is a video of the play in question, a first-half sequence that left Ljungberg on the ground and rookie Toni Stahl facing the first of two yellow cards he would receive on the night:

The video doesn't show much contact, if any, but Ljungberg hits the ground hard and gets up holding his lower back (there is a point where Stahl's leg goes behind Ljungberg where contact could occurred). Ljungberg has been reportedly receiving treatment on his back ever since and is questionable for Saturday's match vs. the Red Bulls.

So who is right and who is wrong? The truth lies somewhere in the middle if you ask me. Philadelphia certainly played a physical match with several indefensible tackles (including one UFC-style tackle by David Myrie), but Ljungberg has made a habit of diving and complaining to referees since arriving in MLS last year. That said, it would seem like a stretch to think that Ljungberg and the Sounders have concocted an entire charade to pretend Ljungberg was injured (though some Philly fans might argue he could have hurt himself throwing himself to the Qwest Field turf).

Who do you think is right in this war of words? Cast your vote here:

What do you think of the video? Starting to wonder if Ljungberg was injured by a foul, or do you see contact? Think Nowak was out of line for criticizing Ljungberg, or was there truth in Nowak's words?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Major League Soccer, MLS- Philadelphia Union, MLS- Seattle Sounders. Bookmark the permalink.

194 Responses to Ljungberg and Nowak continue war of words

  1. sherpaco says:

    if you watch the angle from the other side, you can clearly see Ljungberg get nailed. That’s a terrible angle to view it from, but I understand why you used that one instead of the others available from more visible angles to try and prove your earlier point about Ljungberg being a diver. You just used the wrong example in this case, as he clearly wasn’t the same for the remainder of the match after this hit.

  2. Spike says:

    Currently 79% say Ljungberg is a diver. Why don’t Seattle fans see that?

  3. Walt Clyde Frazier says:

    novak’s teams have a history of being thuggish. just look at his dc teams of old. that being said fredie tals and complains to the refs way too much.

    both are tools

  4. B MO says:

    BTW sounder supporter here,MLS is physical and that’s how some defenses deal with a technically superior player. He was also the most fouled player last year, I do wish he would just get up after a no-call though

  5. Hutskizzle says:

    FL does dive a lot. Every time he goes to the ground he automatically assumes that its a foul and yellow worthy. Hell even he admitted to it this off-season by saying that the MLS is a lot more physical than what he expected and hes trying to put muscle on so he can stay on his feet

    Also Nowak’s teams are always dirty (remember DCU circa 2004-06 anyone??). As a RBNY fan and probably being P-U’s biggest rival now, i dread the two saturdays we play them. This is what Nowak’s scouting report is going to say about us: SWEEP THE LEG

  6. Kevin in Denver says:

    I’m a fan of any MLS controversy or war of words. ESPN loves that stuff.

  7. Kingsnake says:

    Nowak should be thankful his team did not have another couple of red cards …

  8. jessie says:

    Ljungberg has been a diver who begs for calls his whole career, not merely since he got to MLS. I’m glad he got hurt diving. Nothing more than he deserves.

  9. rastafari says:

    Saturday is gonna be a blowout

  10. Osvaldo Alonso says:

    I don’t really see how Ljungberg has all of a sudden earned a reputation for diving? I have watched 95% of Sounders games and Freddie generally tries to stay on his feet after contact. He gets hacked alot (I believe he was one of the most fouled players in the league) and he is generally pretty good about trying to stay on his feet and not play acting. I don’t think any other coach has complained about him going to he ground frequently besides Nowak.

    Freddie certainly has alot of complaints for the referees but can you blame him? He went from the best league in the world to the MLS. Naturally, there will be some calls that do not go his way and he will run his mouth. I think he should shut up and play but when you are as competitive as someone like Ljungberg it is not always that easy.

    I can easily admit that Montero has an over the top penchant for diving (although he has gotten better about it) but I really don’t think Ljungberg is a play acting diver. He was never known as a diver in his Arsenal days and why would he all of a sudden incorporate that into his game? Point me to some concrete evidence that he simulates fouls and I will gladly change my opinion.

    As for Nowak, it’s easy to point the finger and make a bunch of stink about someone on the other team when the heat should be on Nowak and his players. I think he is acting rather childish about it, and I would certainly be embarassed if Sigi stooped to the level of publicly degrading other players to take the blame off him and his team.

    As far as this poll goes, with the amount of people who hate cocky and overzealous Sounders fans I won’t really put too much to stock into it.

    Oh well. I love having Freddie Ljungberg on my squad(and in the MLS) and I think he is a great asset to the league.

  11. Dougs says:

    Its funny, I was just going to credit you Ives for giving the Sounders some nice coverage when I realized you really just wanted the opportunity to bash Ljundberg.

    Freddy gets fouled, hard, every game because people can’t take the ball from him without doing so. He complains a lot but not without reason. He would be better off yelling at the refs less, but that takes nothing away from the fact that he gets hit hard all the time.

    But good job stirring up the Seattle/Ljundberg hater pot.

    (SBI-Dougs, I believe I left it up to the public to express their views on this. Does Ljungberg get fouled? Yes. Does he also dive and complain a lot to refs about plays where isn’t even touched? I’ve seen it. As I said above, the truth is somewhere in between. If you want to go ahead and think that he’s completely honest on every play you go right ahead. I’ll trust my own eyes and make my own judgments, as will the rest of the public.)

  12. EDB says:

    FL may dive here and there and embellish.. but the Union where playing thuggish ball. Also I think the MLS needs to decide what kind of league they want to have. I personally prefer a league like Spain or Italy where its more technical then physical.

  13. Luis F says:

    An interesting thing to note is that Ljungberg was the most fouled player in MLS last year. If you think he’s not getting whacked constantly, then you aren’t paying attention.

    Ljungberg doesn’t really have any other options to defend himself beyond diving or never holding the ball.

    (SBI-How does actually getting fouled frequently mean you aren’t capable of diving? Obviously he’s getting fouled, but he’s also going down when he’s not getting fouled.

    I’m just not a fan of diving at all. Maybe it’s a matter of preference. That doesn’t mean I condone or enjoy dirty tackling either, but I’m not sure why it has to be an either/or. Can’t we do away with both?)

  14. aristotle says:

    Without too much thought and just on the general face of things, I would have thought Ljungberg was right, but after watching that particular replay it seems quite clear that Ljungberg was acting. In fact, it looked like the two Philly players tackled each other and almost completely missed Ljungberg.

    Either way two things are clear. Ljungberg was acting on that play whether he was hit or not. His whole upper body which didn’t even seem to get touched just collapses. That is NOT a natural movement. If he was hit he should have gone down because of contact to his legs. Unless contact to his legs caused pain to shoot up his back. Seems unlikely, though.

    The other thing is regardless of this play Philly were overly physical on Freddy and the rest of the Seattle team. Ugly stuff.

  15. Terry says:


    Amazing that you would call him a diver. I read your site alot and I see you as a pretty knowledgeble guy. This article means either you don’t pay much attention to the players in the sport you cover, or you are trying to add some contraversy to you site. Montero, does dive alot. Ljungberg is a very aggressive player, with a slight frame. Players like him in the EPL and ETC. run around with the ball and nobody touches them. Did you watch the Arsenal, Barcelona game today? Lots of Freddy Ljungberg’s. Did you see the type of cut downs that you see on him, in the MLS. I think not. You are falling hook, line and sinker into the pathetic attempt by Nowak to get publicity for his team. He is trying to put a shroud over the real way, his less than threatening offensive team is going to try and win.

    (SBI-Montero dives much more, but Ljungberg did seem to pick up the habit late last year and did so again in the opener.

    Is anybody entitled to have an opinion that differs from yours Terry? Or is just automatic that if someone disagrees with you must not know what they’re talking about? I’ll trust my opinion, and you can trust yours. I still think Ljungberg is a great player and MLS is better for having him, but I also think he can get caught up in ref-baiting and diving when it isn’t called for. As for Philly, they were definitely guilty of sloppy tackling and hard fouls and won’t get away with that stuff in the long term. I also think Nowak should have kept the criticism to himself, but it doesn’t mean there wasn’t some truth to the things he said.)

  16. Dougs says:

    Ives, I take issue with the timing of your criticism more than anything. Ljundberg was trampled by Stahl — the ref saw it, the crowd saw and the Ljundberg felt it. He tried to play through it but couldn’t and asked to be removed from the game. How many players do you know ask to be removed from a game when they aren’t injured? He is now on the mend, sitting out three days of practice with swelling so bad that his knees buckle when he tries to go up stairs. These things happened independent of what the camera angle you show above.

    From that incident, you chose to highlight your opinion that he is more often than not embellishing/faking it most of the time. Perhaps not the best time to make your case, independent of its merits.

    (SBI-So now I said he fakes being fouled “most of the time”? Get a grip Dougs, you’re starting to distort things a wee bit. Ljungberg gets fouled more than he dives, but is there an acceptable level of diving in your book? Or is that contingent on whether the diver is a Sounders player?

    As for the “timing” of my “criticism”, the subject of the Ljungberg-Nowak feud came up in the Live Q&A today so I decided to address it.)

  17. Luis F says:

    Btw, the contact is at the 2-3 second mark in the video, when he gets a knee in his tailbone/lower back

  18. BCC says:

    The video is inconclusive.

    I blame referees more than anyone. If they would show more discernment on some of these plays, then diving would not be as much of an issue. Divers are a classic example of people who will take a small, short-term gain in exchange for a long-term reputation problem. C. Ronaldo gets hacked a lot but he does not always get the call because of his reputation. You pay the price in the end, so I think it’s always best to stay on your feet unless you are genuinely taken out.

    I don’t care about either team, so I am about as objective as a person can be.

  19. Ian says:

    Sounders fan, love Freddie, and he does go down easy on that play, but everyone seems to ignore the 9 times out of 10 that he’s continuing the play after a challenge. There’s a reason he’s one of the best play makers in the league, and it’s not because he’s rolling on the ground.

    Either way, no excuse for Nowak though. If you lose, suck it up and prepare for the next game.

  20. ryan says:

    when did this site become soccer by ACES? there were what, 15 cameras at that game, and you base your decision on one angle? good god, ives, embarrassing. as a sounders fan, i too wish he wouldn’t complain so much. not that he doesn’t have a case, but it’s fuel for the anti-seattle/anti-ljungberg fire. he’s not wrong, but he’s frustrated, and rightfully so. soccer is the beautiful game. mls is not. all he’s asking is for the league to IMPROVE so it can become beautiful. i bet thierry henry saw highlights and is rethinking his desire to come to the states. he probably values having legs that work.

    (SBI-Soccer By Aces. LOL. That was a funny one. Exactly what “decision” did I make? I said it didn’t look like there was contact. I didn’t think there was contact when I saw it live, and definitely not after the replay. That’s my opinion. Now, if there was contact than so be it (and I was pretty clear in saying that it seem far-fetched that Ljungberg and Seattle would concoct a fake injury), but I do find it funny how people can look at that video and swear unequivocally that there was a brutal challenge laid down on him. The Stahl challenge on Montero was a much more clear example of an unneccessary and egregious challenge.)

  21. Ian says:

    How does putting on more muscle lead to more diving?

  22. Kindgom says:

    In those sounder’s matches I’ve seen, Ljundberg’s not looked like a diver to me. And I love to read his blogs – very straight and interesting. He impresses me as a class act and an honest guy.

  23. Cyrus says:

    someone needs to inform Freddy Ljungberg that the grass in front of him is NOT a swimming pool.

    Nice dive though.

  24. Jason says:

    Ives(and Nowak), its so funny how you single out Ljungberg, without even a note of the many perennial divers throughout MLS, Blanco, (ex Fire star) made a living blatantly diving and complaining, Phillys own Moreno come to mind. I’m not defending Ljungbergs complaining to refs etc. But perhaps that should be taken care of on the pitch between the players and refs.

    Nowaks got bigger problems with HIS team than to worry about blaming Ljungberg, Montero, the fans or anything else. I’m beginning to have a picture in my mind of Neven Subotic and Guiseppi (sp?) Rossi not opting to play for the USMNT in part because of Nowak…I hope I’m wrong for the sake of PU fans.

    (SBI-What in the world does Nowak have to do with Subotic and Rossi? Talk about random uninformed comment.

    I’ve made comments about divers in the past, from Carlos Ruiz to Cuauhtemoc Blanco to Alejandro Moreno. Diving is just a bad thing in general. I didn’t set out to make this post some sort of drive-by on Ljungberg, but it’s pretty clear some Seattle fans have chosen to ignore the balance to the post and only focus on the criticism of Ljungberg. Get a grip people. Have your opinion and live with it, but realize that not everyone is going to agree with you, and people who disagree with you don’t always have some ulterior motive. Sometimes people just see things differently.)

  25. Anonymous says:

    Except that this particular dive led to a war of words which makes it more interesting. Blanco dives and everybody knows that, not that interesting. I don’t think the point of the story was the dive, it was the fact that player and coach are publicly criticizing each other which is better news than another Blanco flop. He’s just getting the readers involved which makes news much more interesting. So

  26. Dougs says:

    Ives, for the record, I love your site and all the work you put into it. I just disagree with you on this and perhaps I could have said so more respectfully. My apologies if I misrepresented your position.

    (SBI-It’s cool man. You’re passionate about your team. No shame in that. Just realize I’ve got no dog in this fight. I’m a fan of the soccer Seattle plays, and picked them to win MLS Cup this year. I do think Nowak should have kept his comments to himself, but now that this thing has turned into the rare MLS “controversy” I decided to discuss it.)

  27. Tisha says:

    Here is a good photo of Ljungberg on the so called dive. Freddie’s legs are tangled in with Toni Stahl clearly showing Freddie did not dive. Stahl got Ljungberg from behind and the ball is in front of Freddie. He does argue calls and non-calls with the refs but he is not a diver.

    link to gosounders.com

    (SBI-Sorry to tell you Tisha but those photos are absolutely inconclusive. If there was contact (aside from Stahl’s hand on Ljungberg’s back), those photos certainly don’t show it. A few frames from about a half second sooner would have been much better.)

  28. joe blow says:

    I was just glad to see the cards pulled out because MLS allows too much thuggish defense. Maybe if players were actually tossed for such behavior regularly, the league could get cleaned up. Was there a ton of contact? No, because Lundberg had to leap between two players one trying to take out his legs and the other pushing him from behind to avoid an even worse situation. Blaming the offensive player when he has one player sliding in for his legs in front and another running full speed with his arms out shoving him from behind is ridiculous.

    (SBI-Dramatic much? “Trying to take out his legs” “shoving him from behind”. Myrie’s challenge was clumsy, but what does have to do with Ljungberg’s back injury? And if Stahl “shoved” Ljungberg, when did the knee to the back happen? Also, who’s blaming Ljungberg for anything? I said it didn’t look like there was contact.

    Thanks for joining us. though. A lot to say in your first comment. Welcome.)

  29. Dlewis says:

    It’s not just about this play with FL. He tends to whine to the ref more than other players in the league. In fact, since c.blanco left the league I say he’s the biggest whiner in the league.

  30. RedStateJim says:

    I watched the game and the dvr replay and never saw the bullet nor the sniper that hit Freddie. It must have come from the grassy knoll. Of course he is milking the treatment for his “injury” because that is what good foreigners will do since Obamacare passed.

    Novak’s young Philly Eagles did tackle harder than the fall version of the team so there is some hope for Andy Reid now that Myrie is available on waivers. Maybe he can get the corner back he has been coveting since none of his current DB’s can tackle like him.

    Freddie could replace the old Serb center Vlade Divac, knocked over by the sound of Diane Cannon screaming. Maybe he wants a gig in Hollywood, he could spell Jason Statham in his next movie.

    Great to see the thin skin of the Sounders fans Ives, it is as if you stated coffee sucks and grunge never existed or something more sinister like there is no global warming. Drink from plastic water bottles and throw them in the trash! And Ives did you know you cant get fresh fish in Seattle.

  31. ryan says:

    the decision was to show one replay. i’m sure you watched the game, as i did, and having watched multiple replays i could plainly see contact. for people who didn’t watch the game and only see this one angle it seem pretty one-sided. i also don’t like the poll question, saying novak is right because ljungberg is a “diving cheat.” pretty strong words, ives. one of nowak’s comments was that ljungberg would get boo’d by 90% of the fans in europe for his play…but he was voted, by arsenal supporters, one of the 50 greatest players in their history. pretty high honor for a “diving cheat.” just my opinion, i guess.

  32. ImaGoalMan says:

    I am clearly on Freddie’s side here. People don’t pay money/spend time watching Myrie (and his lot) “cobra kai” the opposition. They want to watch great players make spectacular plays. This goes for pretty much every sport Americans watch. Protect technical players from incessant thuggishness.

    (SBI-I agree with you that technical players shouldn’t have to be subjected to awful challenges, but would you say diving doesn’t bother you and you’re okay with it?)

  33. EverydayFan says:

    Hey Ives,

    I love your blog.

    You are #1.

    I was at the game, and saw the foul by Stahl. Unfortunately, the foul was hidden from view in your video.

    To see _exactly_ what it looked like, show the video of Stahl fouling Montero which earned him his second yellow.

    That foul was caught on video as plain as day, and you will clearly see him jamming his knee into the spine of Montero from behind. He looks like the Karate Kid.

    Stahl and No-whack both deserve fines and suspensions.

    That type of ugly play has no place in the beautiful game.

    (SBI-Chris, thanks for the love. I said Stahl’s foul on Montero was yellow-worthy (though the whole ‘Jamming his knee into his spine’ thing is a bit much), but I really don’t see the contact that led to Ljungberg’s injury. I also don’t see how someone at the game, a hundred yards from the action, can purport to think they had a clear view of a foul occuring at full speed. I’m sure it felt like there had to be a foul the way bodies flew, and the way Seattle’s fans reacted, but the video doesn’t show me that definitively. At the very worst, Stahl catches Ljungberg with his knee as he sticks his leg in to get the ball. There’s a chance that happened, but it’s tough to see that contact on the video, and at least as tough to see it from the stands at Qwest Field at full speed.)

  34. Tisha says:

    So I guess RedStateJim that a Sounders fan can’t say a word or else she/he is a thin skin whiner.

    I love soccer. I love Seattle. I love Sounders FC. I’m in heaven.

  35. acj says:

    I’m pretty sure you all know I’m a sounders fan so take my comments with that in mind.

    I’d say that did look like a foul, not worthy of a card, but I’d have a hard time calling it a dive.

    I think Nowak is just trying to drum up publicity for his team by picking a fight with a team which has a big vocal group of supporters. I’m all for it from a showmanship perspective. I think a little bad blood is good for the league. I’d just say that anyone who watched that game and doesn’t think Nowak’s game plan was to hit the sounders and play a physical game is naive. If you tell your players to go out there and manhandle your opponent you lose credibility when you whine about dives and fouls called against your team in the post game news conference.

    (SBI-ACJ, I highly doubt that was Nowak’s motive. Nowak’s an emotional guy and he obviously let his emotions get the better of him. I’ve said it repeatedly that he shouldn’t have spoken out, but he did.)

  36. RedStateJim says:

    tongue and cheek Tisha. You have the best fans in the land.

  37. KevDC says:

    I am loving seeing all the indignant Sounders supporters here: “Freddie doesn’t dive! No way! You are making this up!”

    LOL! Thanks for the entertainment.

    The video does seem to show a foul, but Ljungberg is still a whiner…and a diver. Take off your homer glasses, Sounders.

    Philly did rough him up, though.

  38. Ed says:

    If anything that shows he dives more often than not, since MLS refs tend to blow the whistle if the guy goes down like he just got shot.

  39. I saw much more diving overall in that game than I would have liked and much more hacking-type fouls than I would have liked. I think we can all agree on that.

    However, as far as the play in question goes, it was definitely a foul. It was not Stahl’s fault that his teammate (Myrie again if I’m not mistaken) made a terrible sliding challenge on the ball and should have received the yellow instead.

    Ljungberg was also hurt as a result of the foul whether he was kneed on the back or tweaked it on the tough fall as a result of the bad challenge. You never know when just a little something can go wrong on a fall that 98% of the time the player will get back up from. Either way, I don’t think he dove there.

  40. nico says:

    Ljungberg falls way too easily, no doubt. I think ‘diving’ is a bit harsh of a term in some cases, though. But to even seriously consider the idea of Ljungberg and an entire organization making up the injury is really absurd and more than a stretch, in my opinion.
    Nowak’s comment really were pathetic. It is one thing to accuse a player of diving, but to question his integrity, wow. Really does lack professionalism.

  41. Jason says:

    Sorry Ives, I feel like an idiot. I mistook Tomas Rongen for Petr Nowak in my comments about Subotic and Rossi when they both played U-20 for Rongen…I stand by the rest of my comments though and still dig your site!

    (SBI-Ah, that makes sense then, though Rongen had nothing to do with Rossi’s decision. Rossi never played for an American youth national team.

    Thanks for taking the debate in the right way. I don’t see why we can’t have a friendly debate about this without it turning into a battle between those who love the Sounders and people who supposedly hate the Sounders.)

  42. mo says:

    may be not a diver, but like to cry for calls.
    He is always trying to talk to a ref, at any game he play.

  43. rastafari says:

    You’re hilarious Redstate where can we catch your road act? Sprinkle some sugar on that bitterness ..maybe.. Reload?

    Props to scott47a for inciting


  44. Ian says:

    anyone have a video of Myrie’s body slam on Zakuani? I remember seeing that and just thinking, “did he actually do that??”

  45. ryan says:

    what i want to know is…if that was a dive, how has fluid built up around his spine? if the “turf” caused it, pretty impressive to get a build up of fluid on your spine, which affected his ability to walk, from landing on your stomach. someone call a doctor, we have a miracle! the guy couldn’t walk up stairs for two days. DIVE! (i know the turf mention was speculation on what philly fans would say, and not your opinion, but you wrote it down and it deserves a rebuttal).

    knee-jerk reactions from saturday and sunday are fine for this argument, but it’s wednesday, and we get new reports on freddie’s health daily in seattle (our local press covers the sounders just like the seahawks, and i’m not exaggerating…it’s awesome), and the fact he hasn’t practiced since the game is either evidence he didn’t dive or soccer’s watergate.

  46. EverydayFan says:

    I hear you bro.

    You’ll have to excuse me if I do purport to have had a better view … my seats are in the 4th row @ Qwest, right where it happened.

    Ljungberg went to the ER that night and the doctor said he had an NFL-style bone bruise.

    Look at the video of Stahl’s second foul – methinks Nowak protests too much.

    (SBI-Why do people keep mentioning the Stahl foul on Montero? It was a yellow, it was a knee, but how does that play prove Ljungberg’s play with Stahl was a knee? Seems like a stretch.

    And Chris, you’re still 40 yards away on a full-speed play. I still think the camera angle slow mo is a better view than what you saw.)

  47. grubbsbl says:

    Freddie hurt his back cause he let himself fall weakly. The contact with the ground is when his back got hurt. Llungberg is a baby.

    Still, the tackles were not good and deserved a foul. Though, there was minimal contact and the fall is what hurt his back. Freddie was looking for a card and that is why he fell to the ground like that. The video shows that Llungberg actually jumped over the lunging tackle, avoiding the contact, then flopped like a baby.

  48. Sean says:

    I’m pretty sure Rossi never played for any US team at any stage… but whatever, he’s still a Benedict Arnold.

  49. The Sounders Rule says:

    Make up your mind homer.. first you say its a foul then you call SNDRS fans homers for saying the same?

  50. Having been at the game, it was clearly a bad foul. You don’t hurt your lower back from diving. His tailbone took a shot.

    He went to the ER for an X-Ray after the game and he’s still feeling it bad as of yesterday:

    As a Sounders fan, I’ll admit that Montero is definitely a diver and his brand of play became very irritating to me towards the end of last year.

    But Ljungberg has no place in the diving argument. Not when he’s being legitimately injured by the contact.

  51. Don Garber says:

    Nowak is a liar and a pathetic coach. Ljungberg is hands down the most talented and most proven player in MLS. Who is Nowak to call him out? You don’t become one of Arsenal’s all time top 11 and become one of the most respected players in the EPL by diving. Philly is quickly becoming the whinners of the league.

  52. grubbsbl says:

    He fell weakly causing whiplash to his lower back. (No resistance forced his body to contort). Please, point to the contact in the video against his lower back. Why wasn’t he grabbing his back pre-fall? His fall insinuated that his legs got caught by a tackle, causing him to fall forward. Also, his arms go out in the that all too familiar I’m about to dive position.

    It was a foul, but Llungberg choose to embellish to entice a card. Therefore, Llungberg is in the wrong.

  53. Sean says:

    Nowak created this whole stir. His team played thuggish, skilless (aside from torres) soccer. Califf’s foul in the first minute showed what the Union’s intentions were all about. Nowak should shut up, take his medicine and try to field a better team.

  54. grubbsbl says:

    Dider Drogba; Cristiano Ronaldo. They never dove right? I am fairly sure those two are respected.

  55. RedStateJim says:

    Of course you don’t think he is a diver, he is your favorite celebrity on facebook! Michael take off the fan tinted glasses and be realistic.

    He is a great player, needed in the league, we all want him on the field Saturday.

    Does anyone shave in Seattle?

  56. PetedeLA says:

    Assuming there’s contact..are we not overlooking the fact that a challenge from behind should be a straight red?

    Or have the rules changed?

  57. scott says:

    Ljungberg is a whiner but he is no diver. Ives has this one all wrong. From his responses to this thread, sounds like it’s personal with Ives for some reason. Nowak is the biggest doof of them all in all of this: what a creature.

    (SBI-How in the world is it personal Scott? I’d say that some people I’m responding to are the ones taking it personal because I’ve dared to criticize Ljungberg. I respect the opinion of others and would ask others to do the same. Nothing personal about it Scott. You, my friend, have it “all wrong”.)

  58. KevDC says:

    I’m simply saying that Freddie’s a whining flopper (albeit a talent player), even if he was fouled this particular time.

  59. JB says:

    Meh. Ives, I can’t tell if you’re ginning up controversy for the hits, or just trying to shore up your (over the top) initial pronouncement that Fredy was a diving cheat.

    (SBI-I’m simply backing up my opinion. People can agree or not, but all the “it must be personal” or “you’ve got an agenda” talk is such a joke. That’s about as weak an argument as anybody can make when debating opposing views. Some folks just see things differently. I can’t say I would expect many Sounders fans to admit that Ljungberg could do anything wrong, but at least some are being reasonable about accepting that others can have a differing opinion.)

  60. KevDC says:

    “Ljungberg is hands down the most talented and most proven player in MLS.”

    Hands down, huh? Pardon me while I chuckle.

    He’s still got skills, for sure, but the dude is a bit past his prime. Any impartial observer who follows the game knows this.

  61. Cyrus says:

    yeah someone forced his left foot to drag on the ground, oh and his right foot followed. What if I lean back and yell, because obviously the pain of 0 to minimal contact should cause me to arch my back scream like a little pansy.

    There’s NO misdirection of any of his legs proving there’s contact. NO ONE naturally falls down like that. I love this sport, but nothing pisses me off more than guys that go down with little to no contact. If you guys want soccer to have any respect in this country, antics like these cannot be tolerated.

  62. ryan says:

    in this video, no, you can’t see the knee to the back, which was my complaint about using just this one shot in the first place. and have you ever been hit in the back and forced to fall face first into turf? i have, and your first response isn’t to grab your back on the way down.

  63. ryan says:

    please provide medical precedence where falling face first on the ground results in fluid build up on the spine, which results in leg pain and limited mobility, similar to “a helmet to the spine from a hit in american football” (to quote the doctor who worked on ljungberg postgame) and then i will listen to your argument. please. i can wait.

  64. ImaGoalMan says:

    No problem here, I don’t like diving either, but is it a causal relationship? Is diving simply a tactical adaptation to physical play? I say its a factor, at least. The sad part is we, as fans, are getting played both ways (regardless of team affiliation). My impression is that if the MLS found a way (*HUGE* if) to reduce excessively physical play, it would be a heck of a lot easier to expose (and punish) the egregious divers. The video really does leave a lot for discussion though, and I appreciate the openness :)

  65. ryan says:

    you obviously have not read any of the doctor reports on his injury. and a knee straight to your spine is NOT like a sweep of the legs. they’re two different types of fouls. did you not read any of this post? he didn’t get his legs cut out from under him, he took a knee to his back, and still can’t practice. if you want soccer to have any respect in this country, statements as misdirected and as misinformed as this cannot be tolerated.

  66. ryan says:

    ladies and gentleman, let me introduce you to ed, peter nowak’s spokesman!

  67. ryan says:

    his back arches because he was hit in the back. a natural human reaction to being hurt is to move the hurt part of your body away from where it was injured. if someone hits your head, do you move your head closer to the hand that hit it? of course not. he took a knee to his back, and it arched away from the initial contact. this has nothing to do with his legs.

    and ives, i told you this would happen. all these drones are looking at this one angle and making judgments, even though other angles clearly show he was hit. when the NFL uses instant replay, they use multiple camera angles for a reason.

  68. ryan says:

    but kev, this whole post is about this one play, not freddie’s career. i’m a sounders fan and yes, i’m frustrated with his complaining, but this was a foul and this is the point of this discussion. if the post was titled “is ljungberg a diver?” then the comments would be different.

  69. josh says:

    Reading the article and all the comments made me want to post. Ives is not bashing on Freddie at all. He is simply saying that diving does NOT belong in soccer. I don’t care whether or not he was fouled the most time last year. What does that have to do with diving? Either you choose to dive or not. Are you saying that because he was fouled so much it left him with no choice but to dive? Regardless Freddie needs to cut the crap because as a star player in this league he has a lot of people looking at him. I just hope no americans who tuned into the game last thursday were turned off because of the diving. In no way am I bashing on the sounders. I consider them my second favortie team to watch to my L.A. Galaxy in the MLS. Please stop diving Freddie, do not give those anti-soccer americans any more ammo to ruin the game.

  70. ryan says:

    they are respected goal scorers, but the average football fan knows their character. the same cannot be said about ljungberg.

  71. ryan says:

    again, the post isn’t about ljungberg’s career and whether he dives, it’s about THIS ONE PLAY. the guy took a knee to his spine and still cannot practice. let’s stay on point, people.

  72. In general MLS refs tend to let things go, so the league is known to be very physical and rough. I don’t think this is good because creative players get roughed up and cannot do their thing as effectively. This also creates bad habits and it shows with the US National Team. The US seems to get a lot of fouls and get into card trouble. Some of it can probably be attributed to bad habits picked up in MLS and what the refs allow.

  73. josh says:

    Stay on point? All it takes is one play for an American watching the game last thursday to see that dive, which in my opinion what it was, and turn it off to never watch it again. One play! It was a dive, plain and simple. I know you cannot see past your biased opinoin, but it was.

  74. tim says:

    exactly, he hurt his back on the landing, not on the “push” or “knee in the back”. From personal experience of being knocked over or taken out, you naturally do not fall as he did. the natural instinct is to twist your hips as you fall to land more on your side rather than straight on your stomach with your arms pulled in. It was his landing that hurt him. 9 people out of 10 that land like that will have a back injury.
    (but is still think he is a great player, but he did take a dive this time).

  75. grubbsbl says:

    I’ll address your earlier post too. I watched the game live and failed to see the contact in all the views. I even questioned the contact while watching it live. To answer you other question, no I am un-athletic and fat so I have never played soccer before. Ryan, falling like that impinges the spine because the vertebra pinches the nerves that run into the legs. Have you ever heard of whip lash? How do people hurt their backs while being the victim of rear endings? There certainly isn’t any direct force going into their lower back. It is the motion of being jolted that causes the injury. I get it your a Sounders fan just think clearly about this. If there isn’t clear contact how did it cause the back injury? It was a foul, but Llungberg also flopped.

  76. grubbsbl says:

    Also, I remember Ljungberg as the guy who colored his hair with a red stripe and looked like a fool running around Highbury. Good character.

  77. ryan says:

    and from that one dive, doctors said his injury is similar to taking a football helmet straight to the spine, which has resulted in fluid build up that has limited his mobility and kept him out of practice for four days. pretty impressive for all that to happen with no contact. you are entitled to your opinion, but read the news. yes i keep repeating myself on this thread, but it’s because common sense is lacking.

  78. grubbsbl says:

    Also, I realized I have been spelling his name incorrectly. For that I apologize. I think Ljunberg is a good player and I am glad he is in the league but he embellishes and moans a lot. Too much for me.

  79. freelancer says:


    I love your site and agree for the most part. I’m a Seattle fan and we all are thrilled to have Freddie Ljungberg here and root for him and the team to the end. Seattle fans still get frustrated at the whining to the refs and diving of both Freddie and Fredy. In this case though I think it was an obvious foul with some embellishing rather than an out right dive.

    In any case however, that paled in comparison to Nowak questioning Ljungbergs integrity and blaming him, Fredy Montero, the fans, weather or anything else he could think of in the press. It was despicable. Perhaps he should have vented himself more appropriately by looking in the mirror at his own questionable (borderline thuggish) tactics rather than focusing on Ljungberg.

  80. ryan says:

    then please explain how his doctors described his injury and the affects of that injury as similar to taking a football helmet to the spine? how is falling on the ground, face first, similar to this? and when someone hits you from behind, at full speed, it is nearly impossible to contort your body in mid air to land on your side. the nfl calls it a “block to the back” and on replays no player can move to land on his side…they all land face first. so, regarding physics, please explain how this is possible.


    I’m an RSL fan and I get the pleasure of watching Javier Morales play and he can go down easy and embellish a few calls. I believe he was the 2nd most fouled player in the league and I think a lot of you would agree he is in the upper echelon of talent in the league. He also took awhile to get used to the the physical play. He was attacked by the most talented, most well known player in MLS history…. David Beckham in the MLS cup and wasn’t able to play in 75% of the biggest game of his career.

    My point is, the extremely talented like Javi & Ljunberg are so good with the ball that a lot of people don’t realize the brutal assault they take on a nightly basis. FL is more of a personality and someone who I think you can tell the Nowak wouldn’t like. I do think FL embellished, but i do think he got fouled on that play and got fouled a whole bunch more in the game that we are overlooking.

    I also get to watch one of the best / most physical CB in the league in Jamison Olave and I see each game the power and speed he plays with and it is scary sometimes.

    We have to do something to protect our stars from reckless tackles, but we also have to keep the stars and foreigners from diving / embellishing to get calls.

    Go RSL! Keep up the good work IVES…

  82. ryan says:

    i respect your opinion and thank you for the discourse. i agree he moans too much, and he complains too much, but the resulting injuries point to contact. whiplash is aches and pains for sure, but they do not cause fluid build up similar to a serious hit to an isolated part of the body, similar to what ljungberg is experiencing.

  83. Camjam says:

    Holy Lord!

    I read this entire comment section without watching the video. From Ives (and others) reactions I was expecting an angle which was useless…. But HOW are people not seeing the knee straight to the tailbone?!?! Seriously, am I missing something? Stahl’s knee goes up between FL’s cheeks and WHAMMY! I truly am impartial here (GO RSL), I’m just looking for somebody to explain to me what it is i’m seeing wrong

  84. ryan says:

    so now you’re giving freddie gripe for having style…even if it’s odd to you? sorry grub, i respect your other responses, but this was a total swing and a miss.

  85. ryan says:

    you saw everything right. don’t worry. get a good night’s sleep.

  86. JW says:

    Well I do think the angle on that video gives the impression that Freddie was not fouled that bad. Although if you watch this video link to soundersfc.com

    it shows two clips of the foul. YOu just need to fast forward through the James Riley segment (about 3/4 the way) until they talk about Freddie.

    What i believe is that everyone is saying it was a foul to his back, when it was really a knee to his tailbone (kind of to the right side). You can see him holding that spot as he left the pitch in the first video clip. It happens fast and hard to see but I think he does knee him on that spot.

    I also would argue that that the foul was not so malicious and probably not a yellow card and with Freddies attitude, every foul on him seems to be card worthy.

    But anyone who gets injured in game knows that it can get worse before it gets better. I can easily see that injury causing some swelling and and forcing him out of practice a few days. That crap happens to me all the time throughout my rec season.

  87. nimajneb says:

    -If you lead in with a knee up on the back of a player with the ball unplayable, you are asking for and should very well receive a yellow. The replay at that angle and the injury (he is, after all, holding exactly the point where Stahl’s knee had been, and the injury as described isn’t particularly consistent with the fall) are consistent with contact.

    -Ljungberg embellished (moving in a way that had no relationship to the point of contact), as he and 90% of the world’s soccer players have a tendency to do to some degree (some more than others) when fouled. This is his M.O. in MLS, but while he may go down lightly, he does not tend to go down with nothing (dive) like, say, Moreno or indeed Montero.

    -Given The first point above and the overall play of his team, the 20% (at the moment) that think Nowak is anything other than a gutless whine are pretty delusional. Stahl had no business coming in on Ljungberg like that.

  88. Adrian in Seattle. says:

    Love the site Ives. I’m a die hard sounders fan. That was a foul on Freddie. Whether or not there was much contact, it was still from behind and most leagues around the world would card for it for the intention. With that said, I think he is a diver as are a TON of players. MLS isn’t suited for the sifter European players and definitely not the south American players. I would complain too.

    Love the site. Keep it coming. I think this is a good conversation.

  89. JesseMT says:

    Ives – if Ljungberg misses the game this weekend, will you admit that he wasn’t diving on that particular play? Or will you try to argue he picked up the injury somewhere else?

    (SBI-Jesse, I won’t be making any arguments. I know what I see on the video and I don’t see how Toni Stahl caused a back injury to Freddie Ljungberg on that play. Just don’t see it. I’ve watched it repeatedly, and looked at the positioning of their feet as they come together and I simply don’t see where Stahl’s leg ever ends up looking like it impacts Ljungberg’s lower back. Now, if Ljungberg winds up missing a match, it can be assumed that contact was made. Hopefully he’s back on the field soon and playing like the player we all know he can be.

    One question I do find myself asking at this point, after watching the play over and over, is how can people honestly say Stahl was setting out to hurt Ljungberg on that play? Myrie’s sliding in with a clumsy tackle, but what does Stahl do wrong on that play exactly? If he did, in fact, catch his tailbone with a knee, as some believe, I would chalk that up to a 6-3 guy challenging in on a 5-9 guy more than on Stahl having some plan to try and intentionally hurt Ljungberg, which is what some people seem to think.)

  90. grubbsbl says:

    Well nevertheless I too enjoyed the conversation. I got to get to sleep here as its late on the West Coast now. At least maybe this conversation sways my negative position towards the power of deliberative democracy……

  91. grubbsbl says:

    I still question the silly hair style. But I am a United fan.

  92. Derek says:

    RSLFAN – You’re completely right! I mean, what do you want Seattle fan? It was a foul, but it wasn’t card worthy. Ljunberg’s injury isn’t serious and at most sounds like it will cause him to miss a few practices. Try being a RSL fan and watching your best player get hacked down by the leagues golden child, Beckham without a card on him. That foul nearly ruined Morales career and definitely ruined his MLS Cup.

    I think Nowak has always been a joke, but this situation has been blown way out of proportion. I’m losing a lot of love and respect for Sounders fans by reading some of these ultra defensive remarks and responses to Ives and other posters.

    You have a great team and a model fan base, but don’t treat every debate like all other fans are out to get you.

  93. smokeminside says:

    My thought exactly.

  94. smokeminside says:

    You clearly didn’t see the match.

  95. AlexS says:

    Alejandro Moreno gets fouled a lot too. Most fouled player in MLS over the last 4 years. He’s also been hurt by reckless challenges.

    Does that mean he’s not a diver? He’s not a flopper – that’s reserved for the Carlos Ruiz’s and yes, Freddy Monteros – but he’s made a carrer out of drawing contact and going down. It’s an effective soccer strategy… but one that I don’t like to watch. Just because Freddy Ljungberg carries through after tackles when he still has the advantage doesn’t mean he doesn’t crumble to the ground when he loses the advantage.

    Ljungberg is a great player when he’s playing, but far too often when he can’t beat a defender he goes down.

    It’s effective, but every bit as bad sportsmanship as when Stahl kneed Montero in the back, and every bit as bad as when somebody hacks at Ljungberg because they can’t stop him.

  96. Emerald_City_Jason says:

    Fact of the matter is that it’s impossible to suffer the kind of spine injury he suffered on that play by flopping. End of story.

  97. Brad M says:

    I met Freddy last year when the Sounders were training the day before a match. I saw him totally downdress and employee of NYRB who told him that there was no locker room available for their training that day. Totally uncalled for and over the top. I loved seeing him get a knee to the back and squirm on the field…

  98. smokeminside says:

    some of the women do.

  99. smokeminside says:

    ryan, as a fellow sounders fan who values your passionate support of

    fred and the team, let’s go out and get a decaf.

  100. smokeminside says:

    so, he didn’t dive?

  101. asoc says:

    The angle shown in that video is very poor.

    Ljungberg took a hit right in the lower spine. Right on his tale bone.

    You can see it in this video.
    link to soundersfc.com
    It is when Arlo White is talking to Sigi Schmid. He makes a comment about Ljungberg taking a knock and they show the clip.

    The knee bumps right into Ljungberg’s tailbone. Going at full speed that can hurt.

    It doesn’t look like much, but try having someone running into your tail bone with their knee as you are trying to slow down to avoid a tackle coming from infront of you.

    Something I noticed about both Ljungberg and Montero. They didn’t start out diving in MLS. You didn’t really see any of this until after they had played a few games where they were constantly getting hacked.

    The problem is that the Refs in MLS are so inconsistent. Sometimes they call a foul, other times they don’t.

    Ljungberg and Montero were 1 and 2 in fouls suffered in the league last year. That wasn’t all diving.

    They were getting hacked so much and it was so inconsistently called that they start diving to protect themselves.

    The refs in MLS let some pretty nasty tackles go one minute, and then later in the same game they give a straight red. Other times they give a very soft yellow then a few minutes later call a foul on a much harsher tackle but give no card.

    Stahl clearly doesn’t know how to play physical without playing recklessly. Throwing your knee into peoples backs without going for the ball is not physical. That is just dirty and cheap.

    I will say, that the ref may have been carding Stahl for the contact pushing Ljungberg into the on coming tackler infront of him. It appeared as though he was trying to push him into the tackle with body contact.

  102. Joe from Philly says:

    Go outside, jump in the air and land on your bum. Since it was an artificial turf field, you’ll probably want to do it on pavement to get are more realistic experience. He easily could have hurt himself by flopping. That said, the Philly kids were hacking away like loggers, so they deserved the attention of a skilled diver. I think they’ll modify their approach as they mature. Freddie the Flopper?…probably not at this point in his career.

    Hey Ives, nice site by the way. I’ve been reading your stuff since you were working at the paper. I’m more of a lurker than a poster, but this topic is fun!

  103. Pat says:

    No one is right. Shut up and play.

  104. Josh D says:

    So there’s nothing else in the world of MLS than to analyze a potential dive, based on one camera angle, that’s a week old????

    Times are tough…

  105. Allegre says:

    10 to 1 he manages to play this weekend. More dives to come.

  106. Dave says:

    Nowak continues today in an article by Christopher A. Vito in the Delaware County Daily Times link to delcotimes.com

    Here is Nowak’s quote:
    “If you want to avoid contact, I would suggest badminton or curling or chess maybe,” Nowak said from the Healthplex. “That’s how we play the game. This is a man’s game. If you want to compete, let’s compete.

    “That’s who we’re going to be. If the other team doesn’t like the way we play, get used to it because we’re going to play every single game like that — regardless of the cards, regardless of the suspension. Get used to it.

    “That’s how we’re going to play every single game, starting March 25 and finishing Oct. 22, or Nov. 22, I hope, when we play MLS Cup. That’s how we’re going to be. We will not change and back off any from the way we play a bit. That’s what the public needs to know and the other team, as well.”

  107. oscar says:

    My initial impression was a tackle from behind and an automatic foul when the Ljungberg went to ground. In some venues with certain refs (e.g. WC), a red card. I did not see the other views.

    The MLS is NOT a good training ground for wouldbe National team players. And won’t be until they eliminate the thuggery/physicality/holding/grabbing which helps prevents the skillful players from showing their “stuff” and entertaining the crowd in the process. The more time a player spends in MLS, the likelier that person will be to pick up bad habits resulting in cards at higher level competitions. The idiotic Bornstein grab in the penalty area which led to the first Dutch goal (PK) is the most recent example.

  108. afc says:

    I think the other defender coming it at his feet did more than Stahl in terms of discomfort.

    I’ve been a fan of Freddie since his Arsenal days and he has always been a little injury prone. I remember reading how he can’t eat cheese and wine because it causes serious migranes.

    However, I do not like this “new” Freddie. It isn’t how he plays and it isn’t a good look for him. I want the old Freddie back.

  109. Jeff says:

    Can we clear something up: Nowak was not talking about the yellow cards, but instead was referring to Ljungberg diving on (watching the game live, I counted three to four) numerous times throughout the game. And to make it worse (as if the acting wasn’t enough), he would just get up and stare down the ref. Come on Freddie, you are better than that!

  110. aristotle says:

    I love people like you, who seem to not even pay attention to what a post says and then respond to it anyway. I was very careful to make it clear that my comment was on the tackle being shown in the video, and that my comment was based on that video. Comprendez vous?

    Who are you calling a drone, know it all?

    Upon looking at the video again I now see that Ljungberg was hit in the lower back. I didn’t see it any of the other times that I looked at it because it’s natural to assume that the incident in question occurred when they all came together, when in fact Ljungberg is hit very early from behind before they all come together. The defender knees Freddy just before he pushes his leg in between Freddy’s legs. Then they all come together and Freddy doesn’t seem to get touched.

    I still don’t know what you are talking about when you say he arches his back away. He is NOT arching his back at all. It just goes straight and dead.

  111. aristotle says:

    There really does seem to be a lot of confusion regarding this tackle as shown by this video. As I stated before, I now clearly see the knee to the lower back, after not seeing it at all the first few times I reviewed the video. It’s very deceptive.

    I think the easiest conclusion to draw from just watching the video all the way through, normally, is that there was no contact and that Ljungberg is acting. especially since no one would naturally fall down like that. However, when I came back here again to check on more comments and watched it again, I saw quite clearly that Freddy was kneed in the back. I saw it this time because I stopped the video and just happened to stop it right as the defender’s knee was making contact with Freddy’s back. It DOES show in THIS video if you stop it in the right spot.

    Also, there was a good observation by someone here who said the ref should also have red carded for the tackle from behind. The tackle was about as from behind as you can get. He put his leg right in between and then through Freddy’s legs. Freddy may act and go down to easily, and complain too much, but he was absolutely right regarding this tackle.

  112. Warren says:

    Ives – and your reply on choosing this camera angle to share when others are available to you presumably?

    Fact is more skilled players like Freddie get beat up in MLS, and yeah they’ll dive to try to draw fouls on some of the culprits.

    Until that changes (the amateurish/unskilled ‘tackling’ a la NFL), the league’s quality of play doesn’t either.

    Last thing MLS can afford is to have one of its few players with international respect – Freddie – get knocked out by wannabe’s.

    The cheat is Nowak & co.

  113. lassidawg says:

    Of all the fouls I saw at the game that was the worst, I would think that would be worthy of a red. Didn’t even consider playing the ball, from the north end it looked like a pro wrestling move.

  114. Warren says:


  115. what? says:

    Thats bad. He should become a stuntman. and I’m no Philly fan. He acts as if he you just got shot. Haha.

  116. Warren says:

    I love having someone of Freddie’s quality and rep in the league, never mind which team he is on.

    Ok some may resent Seattle, but quality of MLS play has to begin to improve somewhere.

    Evidently it won’t be Philadelphia. Bummer.

  117. Aubie4Prez says:

    SBI–Load the video of the the first yellow between Califf and Montero. While they are setting up the kick you can CLEARLY see Freddy “Wink” to someone. That was the biggest dive of all. And it cost a yellow to PHilly.

    MLS needs to start suspending stuff like that and then resend the yellow card.

  118. otergod says:

    lol, jason, you must be new, b/c Ives has pointed out blanco’s antics before…

  119. otergod says:

    i think Robbie Rogers was 2nd in the running (if i recall correctly). Talk about two different players

  120. Warren says:


    You’re hanging with ‘fair and (un-)balanced Fox folks too much, it doesn’t become you. Your poll is clearly skewed – but oh yeah ‘we decide.’ Sure thing.

  121. aristotle says:

    This is amazing. People still aren’t seeing it, or don’t want to see it. Watch the video again and keep stopping it as the defender starts to put his leg near Freddy. It clearly shows it was a bad tackle from behind AND that he was kneed in the lower back. There is NO WAY this was acting.

  122. rkupp says:

    There may have been a foul on the play, but Ljunberg clearly stops moving his feet so he’ll be sure to go down.

    This kind of play has been so commonplace that it’s very hard for refs to distinguish real fouls from fake. It’s become on more tactic, like falling on the ball, that players use to force a call from the ref.

    I’m in favor of waving off any foul where the player stops trying to stay on his feet – that would clean this stuff up in a hurry.

    The whole business with dragging the feet across a diving keeper, throwing the arms up in the air, etc. needs to go. Physiologists have analyzed reels of replays and determined that these kinds of reactions are “unnatural” for someone getting fouled. A real foul has someone putting their arms out in front to break their fall, not overhead like they are praying for rain.

    Lj may have been fouled, but that’s no reason for both his legs to instantly freeze. That’s training in action!

  123. thorpinski says:

    Freddy has repeatedly pointed out that the MLS is a very physical league, so in that respect he needs to learn to deal with it.

    If Messi fell everytime he was hit he would not be able to score all those wonderful goals. In general and excluding the PK area there’s more to be gained from staying on your feet verses diving imho

  124. aristotle says:

    I really disagree. If you have played much soccer you were probably kneed in the lower back at one point, and you definitely stop moving your feet because taking steps or moving your upper legs pulls right on the area where you were hit. While I do agree that in any other circumstances it looks like acting, in this case it’s a normal reaction. Even how he hits the ground fits with taking a knee to the back. I also disagree that a player needs to always try and stay on his feet. In a fair world where the right decisions are nearly always made, I would agree, but the fact is that the idiotic refs punish you if you manage to stay on your feet. It’s almost like they are saying: “Well, I guess it wasn’t really that bad then, was it?”

  125. Chicago - Scott says:

    I don’t know who cries more… Freddie or Seattle fans

  126. aristotle says:

    I’m beginning to think there is a LOT of bias here against Seattle.

  127. Pico says:

    I keep hearing and reading about how physical MLS is and players coming from abroad should adapt to it. But I think MLS is beyond physical and what referees allow to happen is just horrendous. Like a Dutch friend pointed out in one game, maybe physical is not the right word, instead it should be called clumsy.

    Teams have all these big and strong defenders and midfielders trying to contain the more skillful players, and since they do not have the skills or know-how, they use borderline tactics to do their job with the consent of the referees.

    If we keep going down this road the league might just end up looking like the SPL and I doubt many people would enjoy that, unless you are a fan of rudimentary soccer.

    In some sense, this whole situation reminds me of the NHL a few years ago when thuggery was getting out of control and it was painful seeing the more skilled players getting mauled by the other team’s goons. At some point, the league had to change the rules to protect the more skilled players.


  128. Josh D says:

    There is a difference between a dive and going into a challenge knowing you’re going to win a freekick. The first is a travesty to the game, the second is a skill at reading the game. Although he does dive, I think Freddie, after all his years, knows what he’s doing when he draws fouls at the top of the box.

    Our own Jozy is getting very good at positioning himself to draw the foul in dangerous areas. If only we had a set piece taker who could take that opportunity at the national level…

  129. Pico says:

    The big difference is Messi is not being mugged by the likes of MLS defenders. And the game is called differently in Spain.


  130. JohnC says:

    Knee to his back- the guy hurts his back because he does such a crazy jerk after the initial contact. If anything Stahl comes up into his butt but it was his reaction that got him hurt. Dumb foul by Stahl, he goes for the ball from behind but if Ljunberg just played the play normal he probably wouldn’t be hurt. Also, I agree Ljunberg plays a technically gifted game and in the MLS that can lead to extra fouls but his whining and rolling around on the ground is probably what leads to more fouls. We all played back in the day and when you saw an opponent continually do that crap you went after him harder. As Ives pointed out earlier Scheletto doesn’t take as many fouls and he is just as technical of a player.

  131. JohnC says:

    You clearly are blinded by your love for Seattle because his last second heroics to sell a marginal foul caused the guy to throw his back out.

  132. JGIB says:

    I hope this means sounders fans will quit reading the site since everyone is clearly against you and ya’ll are clearly know more then the rest of us and are completly unbiased.

    Scarves Down

  133. cwbyjnky says:

    proof? link to the clip?

  134. OmarVizquel says:

    Except for all the posts from Seattle fans defending FL that ALWAYS seem to start with, “I’m a diehard Sounders fan……..”

  135. k says:

    I think there is a problem with people’s definition of diving; when a player gets hit and goes down it’s not diving, maybe you think he could have stayed on his feet but that doesn’t negate the fact that he was fouled and therefore not diving. A dive is when there is no contact and the player dives to the ground, anyone who sees no contact when the two players converge on Freddie L is blind. You want to say he could have jumped over one player, spun around and fended off the other ala Bruce Lee and continued on with the ball, so be it, but he was clearly fouled.

    And Nowak is a disgrace to the game and the profession, he admitted that his team is going to continue with cheap thugish play regardless of the cards and suspensions because he doesn’t know how to coach technical soccer and doesn’t have the talent. He represents everything that is wrong with the MLS, too bad for Philly because I was excited for them joining the league, now I feel sorry for them.

  136. JB says:

    Nowak didn’t say anything in that press conference that wasn’t already said in the in-game thread here. In my mind, if you call a player a fake and a cheat only to find out he’s getting fluid drained from his back, you owe him an apology.

  137. Lucy says:

    Seattle players dive. We all now that very well. Question remains–are the refs dumb enough to call each one a foul? Montero should take some acting classes….he goes way over the top in his “pain”.

  138. eric says:

    best. foul. ever

  139. ZACK says:

    This article/poll is just SBI’s way of supporting his Red Bulls club ahead of their match against Seattle this weekend. At least Peter Nowak has the guts to say what he means directly.

  140. Snare says:

    People hate Seattle bc they are jealous that they are good and have an amazing fan base and owners group. They deserve the bragging rights. They are the new class of MLS. And I’m an RSL fan, so no biases here.

  141. Spectra says:

    Maybe the dive is what hurt him?

  142. Manny F says:

    Are you serious Ives? I have seen Ljungberg play for so long and he has never seem the bit of a diver.

    I knew Philly was gonna be physical team by the lack of attacking quality it has. But its a team that has good defenders.

    It was a physical game in rainy conditions which would lead to more contact then usual on turf.

    And as someone that saw the game live, I can say that it was foul. If it was the WWE I would have clapped. But that goes to show just why the league needs to open up the purse a little more and get quality players in this league.

  143. Seriously? says:

    Freddie’s a serial diver who should be arrested! Nowak and his team should be charged with war crimes! Freddie’s never dived in his life, just look at the video! Ives is a know nothing jerk whose singular mission is to destroy Ljungberg’s reputation!

    yawn… Next topic…
    (though it is interesting that more than half the voters say Ljungberg dives too much AND the Philly Union played dirty.)

  144. nimajneb says:

    I doubt many would claim Stahl was out to hurt him… but rather making a clumsy challenge from behind without a prayer of playing the ball. It doesn’t particularly help that he kneed a different Seattle player in the back in the same game.

    The contact would be at three seconds in your own video. You can watch that particular angle and shot as many times as you like and you’ll never be able to reasonably come up with the conclusion that he DIDN’T make contact, because it’s a lousy camera angle. Salazar was viewing straight on from upfield.

  145. joemomma says:

    exactly! he crumbles to the ground to be dramatic and that probably resulted in more pain that a little knock on the tailbone

    stahl makes contact with his butt or tailbone if anything

    no back trauma here freddie!

  146. Jon from Chicago says:

    “Put um in a body bag Johnny….”

  147. Lee from NYC says:

    From what I’ve seen… FL definitely gets fouled, but he also embellishes it quite a bit. You get fouled like that you fall with your face and torso looking at the floor, not looking up and arching you back like that. The arching of the back is probably what tweaked his back.

    Again, it was definitely a foul. A yellow card bc it was from behind, but it wasn’t enough to hurt his back if he didn’t try to embellish it.

    Philly did play too physical. Nowak should’ve kept his comments to himself.

    Either way, there’s no convincing Sounders fans of FL’s embellishment and Union fans that it was yellow card foul.

    Prediction for this Saturday: RBNY ties in Seattle, only bc Kandji and Richards can’t finish their chances.

  148. Jon says:

    I love the EPL, but have you seen all of the divers in the league? Drogba, Rooney, Gerrard, Torres…the list goes on.

    I agree that Ljungberg is a very good player; but all great players take a dive sometime (as in the clip). It isn’t surprising Ljungberg would make a meal of it since the ref was card-happy.

  149. Garrett says:

    If you think Llungberg dives look at Montero. That guy falls over if you blow on him. I mean that literally. If you blow on him he’ll fall over and grab his leg like you hit it with a bat. I’m not exaggerating.

  150. Jammer says:

    Even if there was contact to knock him down, that was obviously a dive. Just watch his whole body goes limp as if he was struck by an invisible taser. And if he had fallen more naturally he wouldn’t be hurt. Poetic justice.

  151. Luis F says:

    This isn’t Spain, players get mauled in MLS in comparison to other leagues in the world. And that’s because the refs let a lot of S go.

  152. Luis F says:

    I’m not sure I understand your point here Otergod

  153. Lee from NYC says:

    Totally agree.

  154. me says:

    YES. It was his TAILBONE. You can clearly see the knee coming up to his tailbone, not his back! Ljungberg was slowing down, and the defenders knee came up and hit him in the tailbone. Anyone who has had this happen knows the pain. If you haven’t, I would gladly demonstrate it on you.

  155. Hoover says:

    Here is the way I see it. Salazar is out there trying to manage a game in tough circumstances; physical play with off the ball fouls from the get go, rain and cold, etc.. He needs to keep things the game from disintegrating. Stahl comes through Freddie from behind, with little chance of playing the ball.

    From that video I don’t see a knee in the back, but under the circumstances I see a bookable offense. The call was about sending a message and trying to keep the game playable. Stahl clearly didn’t get the message and deserved his sending off. Hopefully he learns from it.

    However, Freddie clearly was injured. You could see it his movements for the rest of the time he was in the game. I don’t see this as great example of Freddie going to ground TOO easily.

    It was however a pretty good example of some very clumsily challenges. First player in late, second player having no opportunity but than to play Freddie, not the ball.

    Nowak should have kept his mouth shut, and I tend to agree Freddie that the comments were pretty low class.

    In the spirit of full disclosure I am a die-hard Sounder’s fan going back the NASL.

  156. Manny says:

    After checking out the video, it looks like Ljunberg’s swan dive backfired on him and he landed incorrectly.

  157. daggius says:

    Yes, tony stahl didnt touch him the first time and he dived in that video.

    But later in the match Stahl clearly kneed him in the back and deserved the red card he got for it (how is a knee in the back in any way a challenge on the ball?). So why the hell are we talking about this first challenge which was just 3 guys getting tangled up clumsily

    If ur gonna be aggressive at least do it like Alonso and go for the ball not aimlessly flail and hack at peoples bodies above the ground

    Stahl played like an idiot and Ljunberg took advantage of it. Good for him

  158. Hutskizzle says:

    He’s putting on more muscle so keep up with the physicality of the MLS. hes not doing it to dive more.

    two separate things my friends

  159. Hutskizzle says:

    hahaha… seriously though, im really not looking forward to those two games lol

  160. Hutskizzle says:

    last thing we need is for danny szetela to do a “failed european career” tackle on JPA in the penalty box and break his leg. he’ll get a red card, 3 game (or more) suspension, and a pat on the back from Nowak…

  161. JesseMT says:

    Cool. Schmid mentioned to the press this week that the injury was more to the “butt” area than the back, which the video seems to back up. I agree Stahl was not out to hurt him. I think he was just a clumsy rookie in a little over his head.

  162. Yes I’m a Union fan. No I didn’t appreciate our thuggish play. You can see multiple angles of the tackle in the following video:

    link to soundersfc.com

    After the 3:00 minute mark or so (the SoundersFC video doesn’t display time markers so I can’t give you an exact time). You will see the first angle that Ives shows and a shot from the opposite angle. After looking at that I do not believe Stahl ever got a knee into Freddie’s back. His knee doesn’t even appear to get his tailbone in the second shot. Now it does look like Freddie might have taken an elbow but that looks like it is more a result of Stahl being out of control because of Myrie’s terrible challenge. From what I can see Myrie’s challenge takes out Stahl who then hits Freddie. Oh yeah and it looks like he is already going down from minimal to no contact.

    You can also watch Myrie’s flying tackle in there…I cringed when I saw that and was hoping he’d be cut. Now I can rejoice that he was.

    All in all I think Llungberg and Montero are two of the bigger divers in the league but at the same time they are two of the more exciting players. I’d prefer these guys not be diving but I can understand why they do in MLS. Guys get murdered out there the answer isn’t to not punish the diving it’s to punish the reckless tackles etc more harshly and punish the diving.

    Oh yeah to those of you who don’t think that a fall can cause spinal trauma, the Mayo Clinic would tend to disagree with you. I’m not saying the fall caused the swelling etc because again to me it looks like he might have gotten an elbow in that mess that was the attempted tackle but it is possible.

    link to mayoclinic.com

  163. tmack says:

    Freddie is a prima donna who along with the skill he brings, also brings the least desirable apsect of international soccer, diving. Nowak is being more than a little disingenuous here. Perhaps Freddie did play it up, but that would ignore the red cards Philly earned at a record pace in the pre-season. Nowak preaches thug soccer and now gets to live with the result.

  164. Hoover says:

    “but that looks like it is more a result of Stahl being out of control because of Myrie’s terrible challenge. From what I can see Myrie’s challenge takes out Stahl who then hits Freddie”

    Stahl is already playing through Freddie, his leading leg is through Freddie’s legs from behind, by the time Myrie’s behind the ball slide comes in. Myrie was late, Stahl was playing from behind. They were both clumsy.

  165. C says:

    Ljungberg flops and bitches more than Blanco.

  166. Steven says:

    Funny how people calls it “Drawing Fouls” when Jozy Altidore does it but call it “Diving” when anybody else does.

  167. kenny_b says:

    No, fouling and diving are not a causal relationship.

    Diving is a choice by the player in an effort to deceive. It is euphemistically called Simulation by the rules when it should simply be called CHEATING.

  168. “Stahl is already playing through Freddie, his leading leg is through Freddie’s legs from behind, by the time Myrie’s behind the ball slide comes in, by the time Myrie’s behind the ball slide comes in.”

    I can agree with that but if you watch the clip it looks like Stahl’s leading leg goes through the lower leg of Freddie not into his back or even his tailbone. It looks more to me like the back injury was due to an elbow in the back not because of a knee. Either way you’re right they were both clumsy, out of position and disorganized. The whole backline played that way all night.

  169. kenny_b says:

    I agree with the Drogba and Gerrard being divers, its a little harsh for Rooney and Torres. IMO, those two guys really battle to stay on their feet.

    Don’t forget Altidore, he is starting to take it to an art form. I really wish he would try and stay on his feet more!

  170. kenny_b says:

    Who are you to dictate that this is about one play? That makes zero sense. You can’t have a conversation about a player diving on a particular play and ignore the fact that some people might consider that the player in question has been known to flop on occasion.

    If it was Drogba would you make the same bold statement, it is only this instance we are talking about and you must ignore all other instances of Drogba diving?

  171. kenny_b says:

    I’m with you with that crap happening to me all the time in rec league and it gets really frustrating. I can imagine with the bigger and faster players in MLS for FL it is down right discouraging.

  172. Seriously? says:

    not as funny as how apoplectic the English media gets when a foreign player dives, in comparison to how silent they are when someone like Gerrard does the same thing.

  173. Hoover says:

    Yes, I don’t see contact between Stahl and Freddie that indicate the injury was a result of knee in the back. It could have been an elbow, or just the impact. But, the foul caused the injury (at least at appeared that way from my observation of Freddie’s mobility after that point).

    Again my main point is that yellow is a result of Salazar’s game management, not necessarily the severity of that single incident. Stahl was playing the player, not the ball, and playing from behind. So he racks up the yellow. Seems like a perfectly reasonable decision by the ref.

  174. kenny_b says:

    I don’t like diving period. I don’t like it from Jozy either.

    There is a grey area though. If you get fouled do you have to make the 110% effort to stumble and stay on your feet in order to not be considered a diver. I’ve been fouled late in a game where I have been tired and I didn’t go through the extraordinary effort to hold myself up. I got the foul call, rightfully so it was a foul. Does that make me a diver?

  175. brad says:

    i had no idea how much seattle fans loved to whine about poor ole freddie and hate on nowak for his success in the league. some biased seattle fans need to open their eyes and not be blinded by their undying support and acknowledge the fact that hey, an intense seattle/philly rivalry is a good thing for the league.

  176. smokeminside says:

    And a beautiful bride Seattle is.

    I should have been more clear that it wasn’t this specific call I was defending (though I realize that’s what this thread is about).

    I don’t think Jessie saw the match because, despite being blinded by my love for the team, the city, the region, the Union played a brutally physical match throughout and if Stahl didn’t deserve a yellow card on that call, every other card the Union got were well-deserved, and it should have received evn more. Even a blind man could see that.

    And Llundberg is a crybaby of a soccer player, but he’s a very very good player, so I’m glad he’s on the team I support.

    I kind of agree with you on the specifics of this call: if Llundberg got hurt BECAUSE he embellished, and not because he got kneed in the back, then he got what he deserved.

  177. Fred Garvin says:

    “hey, an intense seattle/philly rivalry is a good thing for the league.”

    You wish.. The Union will be so humbled by mid season Kojac will be asking Bora for an assistant job.

  178. Fred Garvin says:

    sorry, I meant Horshack

  179. Hoover says:

    By nature a fan of a team is biased, no-one needs to “open their eyes”.

    An, too be honest, are you even making a point? Or just in the mood for making some random, non-relevant, generalizations. You hit the mark on that if it was your goal.

  180. Scott A says:

    Seemed to me Philadelphia initiated it with the hacking and then Ljungberg and Seattle responded with the falling down and whining. It’s the age-old defenders playing dirty with skilled players and then skilled players having to defend themselves by exaggerating because the refs are only calling things when the player falls. Not sure what the solution is. Philly=thugs. Seattle=whiners ha

  181. JohnRSL says:

    your obviously a sounders homer

  182. landycakes says:

    yeah, he went to the ER just to prove a point… good logic spike.

    let me knee you in the tailbone and i will watch you dive.

  183. Emerald_City_Jason says:

    @Joe from Philly: My point is that he didn’t land on his “bum.” He landed on his front-side and ended up with a bruised butt. Ergo, there was significant contact from behind.

  184. Derek Young says:

    I have no idea what you all are looking at. You can very clearly see the point where he kneed Ljungberg directly on his tailbone (which is where the injury occurred.) The swelling is pinched nervous which is why he’s had trouble running and came out of the game.

    Nowak is a dimwitted liar who is making excuses for poor management. Nothing more.

    I will acknowledge Montero clearly dives or goes down easily, that has never been a knock on Ljungberg. He’s simply fouled hard and often.

  185. ryan says:


    and we’ll all just have to agree to disagree on this one.

  186. Jack says:

    To me it looks like Lundberg started his act of hurting before even hit the ground. Not to say that Stahl’s touch of him caused his injury. I think he is a big phony. But he’s just doing what alot of soccer players do and that is play the ref for a foul when there is none. Somehow soccer needs to make these phonies pay for their actions. Perhaps handing out yellow cards to them after reviewing the game videos. I am a huge soccer fan but all these whimps falling when there is no foul is really annoying. It hurts the game.

  187. joe blow says:

    When a player slides in head on and doesn’t get the ball yes, that’s taking player’s legs out. Even when he only slightly gets the players legs he is disrupting the play. When a guy comes flying in behind clumsily without enough control to not run a player over and he’s not playing the ball yes, that’s a push from behind.

    When a guy touches the ball past the defense and is slid into and run over yeah, that’s a foul. And when a player is struggling to avoid such “tackles,” he is going to be off balance and go down easily. Two defensive guys were unable to play the ball and took Freddie out of the play.

    I just think it gets old when people wanna complain about the offensive players all the time when the defensive guys play out of control.

    And no, not particularly a Seattle fan

  188. Brokenbil says:

    I think Nowak needs to get used to losing and not be so quick to find excuses for his fledgling team’s performance.

  189. majora999 says:

    I would agree in many cases Ljungberg probably does dive, but just because he has done it before DOES NOT MEAN EVERY TIME HE IS DIVING! Seriously Ljungberg was pretty much invisible after that foul.

    And the fact is that He had to go to the emergency room and get an MRI. You could tell he really didn’t play at all after that hit. He was barely running around and didn’t get very involved. In my opinion, even though he may be correct in general Nowak needs to grow up. He’s being just as childish and petty as he claims Ljungberg of being.

    Ljungberg’s injury is similar to one players get from “spearing” in american football, where someone hits them directly with their helmet. If you take the replay of the hit by itself I would agree that it kind of looks like he dived. I may be a Sounders fan but I would be the first one to admit Montero did some major diving last year and Ljungberg complained a lot.

    Also, there is no reason to keep this stupid “arguement” going. Do you mean to talk about it for the whole season and complain? Nowak sure seems like he might. Show some class and keep the finger pointed at yourself Nowak. Your just as at fault as your players. You can tell HE WASN’T THE SAME after that tackle.

    (On how his lower back injury feels . . .)

    “I don’t feel great. Of course I had a kick in my lower spine and it is still swollen. We have x-rays and MRI’s 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.”

    quote from -> link to prostamerika.com

  190. Joamiq says:

    Oh yeah, Arsenal fans liked him, so he doesn’t dive. Solid logic there.

  191. Pegntim@gmail.com says:

    Ljungberg was fouled. I was there at about midline and could see both Stahl fouls, both cheap and dirty in lieu of real soccer. The second one was so blatant that it alone warranted a red sending off. Who is the idiot–he deserves to be down in the minors, for good. Now the DC game, that was more like it–Our LeToux did it all, Oh watch Moreno for diving,