Player for sale or rent

STEVEN SANDOR -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:40 AM ET

In hockey, we know all about the rental player. A team acquires a veteran at the trade deadline for a playoff push, knowing full well that he likely won't be around next season.

In Hunter Freeman, TFC has the soccer version of the rental.

Freeman made his debut in TFC's midfield in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Columbus, just a day after being acquired from the Red Bulls for supplemental draft picks in 2009. But the Reds' brass knows that Freeman will only be with TFC until the end of the season; there's no chance that the MLS vet will be back in 2009.

Why? Because Freeman has already agreed in principle to join Norwegian side IK Start right after his MLS contract expires on Dec. 31.

Once the Red Bulls found out Freeman had a "done deal" somewhere else, he was benched. Freeman wanted out -- he didn't want to finish his contract sitting in a press box or on a reserve team.

"I was in a bad situation in New York, and I wanted to come here for about a month," said Freeman. "New York told me I wasn't going to play."

Toronto will lose about half of its roster again on Oct. 15, when its game with FC Dallas coincides with a World Cup qualifying date. Having Freeman on board will give coach John Carver a player he can place into a variety of spots.

"We (Carver and I) had a talk Friday, and I told him where I can play," said Freeman. "I can play midfield, I can play fullback. Anywhere except striker or keeper."

Freeman is the 33rd player to wear the TFC colours in a game this season, not counting the friendlies. He's here to help the team try and make up the six-point gap between itself and D.C. United, which currently holds the final playoff spot -- then he will leave own.

"They (New York) told me at the time that they couldn't make me any kind of offer... Money is much better there than it is over here. Who knows if I made the right or wrong decision? Only time will tell."

The MLS knows that its fans accept players leaving for high-profile clubs, such as Maurice Edu's move to Rangers or Jozy Altidore going to Villarreal. But a real issue for the MLS is the number of American and Canadian players in Scandinavia. These aren't marquee leagues, but MLS is losing players because it can't keep up with salaries in Norway, Denmark and Sweden.

Freeman is a prime example.

-- 24 hours sports editor Steven Sandor has written about the Beautiful Game for numerous publications around the globe. The Red Card appears Wednesdays in 24 hours. 


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