After an earlier report from AS and a confirmation from Empire of Soccer, club confirmation of the transfer of defender Hunter Freeman to Miami FC came from the Cosmos, directly from the mouth of Head Coach Giovanni Savarese. Fresh off their first win over the Indy Eleven, most of the questions revolved around the transfer and the coach was asked about his side to the story.
“The side of the story is that it’s true. He’s leaving; he’s going to be with them tomorrow. We have always been of the mindset, as a club, that we never stop players when they feel that there’s an opportunity for them that they want to pursue. That’s been our philosophy from the first day.”
“But, we are for the players and once the players know there are other opportunities in which they can earn more, then I think as a club, we’ll always be the same way to allow a player to achieve that. I think it’s been a few weeks in which Freeman was thinking about it and we felt that we have to agree with what the player was asking for and at the end, we decided to do it.”
The approach of the Cosmos coach is well in line with previous thoughts he’s shared on players potentially leaving the club. When Hunter Gorskie and Walter Restrepo left earlier this year, his reasoning was essentially the same.
“He received a tremendous offer from Miami, maybe at a time that we could question the moment that it was given, the offer. Not at the right time in what it was with FIFA rules.”
Asked about the amount the club and player had made, he would not go into specifics.
“What has been given to the club, the New York Cosmos, is confidential, but it’s good for us to be able to have made the transaction. What we have agreed is something that we feel that it was good to consider.”
He later shared that the transfer fee was in the six figures range.
Asked how the transfer came about, Savarese told an interesting story, one that did not paint Miami in a good light.
“I have no problem explaining exactly how things went about. It was an offer directly to the player, never through the club.”
The Venezuelan explained that the club could have handled it a different way, but decided to go forward with the defender’s wishes.
“Freeman has given us a lot. We’re very proud of everything he’s done for us. He has always been, from the beginning, contributing, and, at this time, we felt that if that’s where he felt that he had to be, that we had to make it work. At the end, we decided to make it work in a way that he’s going to be their player starting from tomorrow.”
“From the beginning, he was an important player for us. He played as a right back most of the years that he has been with us but, so many matches, we used him as a center back because he has that quality to be able to play in those positions. He was a vice-captain, he was one important player in the locker room and he’s been always supportive of our club, trying to make sure that we keep things to the right direction.”
“The player was aware that he was offered that amount of money, we discussed it, and in the end, we decided if that’s what he felt was the right thing, we aren’t going to stop a player. We always said it. We’re never going to stop a player from going where they feel they need to be.”
This is not the first Cosmos player that Miami has acquired mid-season. In the spring, the South Florida club reached out to the Philadelphia Union with an offer causing the MLS club to recall midfielder Michael Lahoud, cancel the loan, and sell him. Between the way they acquired Lahoud and how they made their overture to Freeman, Savarese was asked for his thoughts on their recruiting practices.
“I think the NASL is the one who has to comment on that. We have our beliefs. We act in some way and we are for the players. We have our style of doing things and I think the NASL is the one that has to answer that question if they think that it was done improperly.”
“That doesn’t mean that they need to, but I think it’s one of the questions for the NASL.”
Miami also made the move to scoop up Gabriel Farfan during the mid-season break, once his spring contract with the Cosmos expired.
The coach was asked if, in light of how the approach was made, if they would file any motion or complaint with the league.
“No, because we don’t want to damage the player. And our concern is the player. Most of all, we don’t want to create a situation which can damage the player. The player has given us a lot. We act like a family always and we support them. Like I said, I think the NASL could look at this kind of situation.”
“We’re not here to complicate it. We’re thinking about winning games and bringing guys in and doing the right things on the field. This is part of one thing that happened and we keep on moving forward.”