Loons like what they noticed of Adrien Hunou in Houston, however it’s nonetheless a piece in progress
“He’s been good at these situations all year round. You can almost certainly bet the bank that he can handle it. “
What?!? Hunou, the Loons’ new high-priced designated player, had a 642-minute goal drought in over nine games before scoring both goals in the comeback road win.
A scroll through Loon’s Twitter – one of the top 20 professional sports teams in the US and Canada with the “most negative sentiment on the internet” according to Action Network – could have told you how thoughtful supporters got over Hunou’s drought.
“We try to keep it in mind,” said manager Adrian Heath. “But when it goes from four (games) to five to six to seven, and since social media is what it is today, it’s for everyone.”
Hunou sat down with Pioneer Press last week to talk about adapting to a new club, league and country. The Frenchman conducted the interview in English, a language he has improved with a teacher.
“When you score, it’s easier for confidence,” he said of his drought. “But that’s how football is. You have part good, part bad. I stay focused and train every day and score in training because I know that will happen. “
Hunou said the Loons’ French teammates – Romain Metanire and Bakaye Dibassy – helped him adapt to a new home and league.
“I can talk to them more, but I talk to the other players (too). … It’s very important, ”he said. “I need to speak better, I know. But it’s like training. Do it and I’ll be fine. It is important for me to speak English and for my integration. “
Hunou’s adaptation started more slowly, having played just 27 minutes in four games in two months at Rennes, France from mid-February to mid-April. He had asked his youth club to move and therefore played less for them.
“I’m starting a new season … so I have to move (on),” said Hunou. “I can’t find an excuse. I am very happy to be here and to help the team every day. I see that the season is not easy when you are over and start all over again and discover another world. “
Part of this new world can do without pre-season matches and without a forward position, which is not a given.
“I’m starting my career as a midfielder and when (I was a striker before) we had two strikers,” said Hunou. “I started with the striker two or three years ago. For me I’m learning to be a striker and when I’m alone (with strikers) it’s too far from the game, it’s difficult for me. But it’s a new experience for me. I prefer to create with someone close to me (like Emanuel Reynoso). It is important to be able to fold with all players. Before when I play with two strikers. You can go, I can take the seat, so I’ll play alone here. “
Part of Loon’s offseason intention was to pair Hunou with another striker. The club had moved towards a deal with a European player, but it was sunk late. At this point, Minnesota turned to Argentine striker Ramon Abila, who didn’t fit in Minnesota and the club moved on last month.
The MLS Players ‘Association had Abila’s guaranteed payout of $ 1.1 million for the 2021 season, but that number didn’t reflect the actual lower amount in the Loons’ salary budget. In a deal with DC United picking Abila up, Minnesota recouped some of the cost of Abila and ended up paying about half his salary for that season.
The Loons signed former Portland Timbers DP Fanendo Adi on a minimum contract for the remainder of the 2021 season ahead of the Houston game, and the 31-year-old Nigerian striker contributed a kick back to set up Hunou’s second goal in Houston.
“We have to look at all options,” said Heath of the game with two strikers. “Of course we’re going to watch the game in Houston and (Hunou) seemed to have more impact when he got deeper into the game and got into the box later. Yes, when we (Hunou) signed, I think if you look at the quotes we thought he could have played any of the first four positions. “
What the Loons can do with Hunou is limited as the other main attackers Reynoso and Robin Lod were injured due to injury from the Seattle Sounders game on Saturday.
“We’re still getting to know (Hunou) and the rest of the boys are still getting to know him,” said Heath. “But as I told him, if he doesn’t get into the box and in the right places, he won’t score goals. That was the good thing for me “from the game in Houston.