Defensive players don't get glory. They tend are rarely famous. They don't get highlight reels. Their cliches are things like being "workman-like," "tough," "willingness to sacrifice," and all of these would apply to Hunter Freeman. But those statements also be ignoring a player who had the skills as a defensive player in college and led his team in points and has the school record for assists.
He doesn't have the speed and flash of new teammate Kofie Sarkodie. What he will be is consistent, a non-problem. The one who transitions the ball safely forward and doesn't commit errors. For a team with solid target forward options who want to put a head on the ball, he'll also be someone who can serve a solid ball, even though he won't be the primary man with that role.
Most of all though, Hunter Freeman is coming home. He's been at national camps, college, the Colorado Rapids, New York Red Bulls, Toronto FC and IK Start over the past decade plus. Now, he is a Texan, not just in origin, but in the very badge on his chest.
What will be the biggest adjustment Freeman will have to make?
Sometimes transfers to the League aren't familiar with the odd structure of contracts and playoffs, @huntfree doesn't have that problem. Oddly, in this case a on- time veteran of MLS will have difficulties, if he has difficulties, playing in front of friends and family for every home game. In his 11 years as a top American soccer player, this will be the first time this has been true.
What kind of impact can Freeman have on his team?
He should be an immediate contributor to a team that struggled defensively in 2010. While Freeman hasn't been on the senior national team radar for some time, he does have experience in Norway and with the US U-23 and U-20 teams. Not many teams add defenders with that kind of pedigree who is an American.
What's a reasonable expectation in terms of production and playing time?
With Houston in a transition phase between their great teams of the past and a new future, Freeman will get plenty of playing time. His positional flexibility should help Kinnear play him in a vast majority of healthy games. While he is unlikely to score many goals, his success will more be judged by a few assists and the ability to educate younger teammates.
What's the ceiling on Freeman?
Hunter can be a quality fullback in the league. His ability to possess the ball while getting forward may not have the flash of younger potential stars like Sarkodie but this Texan will stand tall with a patient game on offense, capable of stopping all but the best with solid positioning.
- Report by Dave Clark of Sounder at Heart