<
>

An MLS Briefing

Freddie does Calvin Klein ads and bicycle kicks. Getty Images

Fear not, lovers of overpriced boxer-briefs or Major League Soccer (we know you're one in the same). While MLS appears set to lose one underwear pinup in Armani hawker/Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham—at least for a few months, anyway—another pretty-boy ball-bender is heading to the U.S. circuit.

Today, MLS's newest club, the Seattle Sounders FC, will introduce former Swedish World Cup team and English Premier League standout Freddie Ljungberg (of Calvin Klein billboard fame) as their marquee player.

The move means that if Becks' short-term loan to Italian club AC Milan goes so well that he decides to turn his back on the hapless Galaxy for good (or so badly that he gets injured before his scheduled stateside return next spring), the league's undie-model quota will remain filled by the dashing Swede. Much like Beckham, Ljungberg‚s mere presence will ensure that the high-pitched shrieks of pubescent girls across North America will be heard in a stadium near you in 2009.

But that will happen only if Ljungberg can stay healthy. While Beckham's Italian job proves he's still coveted at the highest level of European soccer, Ljungberg, the 31-year old former Arsenal winger, has had an injury-riddled year and has reportedly considered retirement. And it won't help that the Sounders will play on artificial turf when they kick off at Qwest Field next April. Ljungberg made only 25 appearances at his last EPL stop, West Ham United, before his contract was terminated by mutual consent in August.

Still, the fledgling Seattle club is eager to make a splash in the soccer-starved Pacific Northwest. Its deep-pocketed investors (part-owner Drew Carey joined Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Hollywood producer Joe Roth on the condition the team have its own marching band) are banking on Ljungberg to be both a major contributor on the pitch, and to move plenty more ducats (the team has already sold over 17,000 season tix) off of it.

Those holding out for a Designer Tighty-Whities Night will have to keep their fingers crossed.