Eleven years and then goes away. After more than a decade spent in Brittany, Adrien Hunou saw himself crossing the Atlantic Ocean to discover a little-known championship in France, Major League Soccer. A journey of more than 6,500 kilometers to land in Minneapolis, famous for having the singer Prince but less so for his soccer club, created in 2010. Indeed, Minnesota United is not the most followed team of town, trying to find a place between the Timberwolves in basketball and the Vikings in American football. However, the Allianz Field gathers in 2021 more than 14,000 spectators out of 19,600 places available and is experiencing one of the best periods in its history. After the regular season ended last weekend, the Loons, the iconic bird of the state of the same name, qualified for the Western Conference play-offs for the third time in a row. A rise in power explained by the recruitment of several European players, especially after their first accession to the final phase of the championship.
It was last April that Adrien Hunou made the decision to take part in a new adventure, also choosing not to participate at the end of the Rennes season, played like any exercise without the supporters. A regret that he confided in a series of articles published by West France last September: “The three weeks that followed (his signature, editor’s note), during which I waited for my visa, were special. We were in the middle of Covid, which prevented me from saying goodbye as it should to the Rennes supporters. I had to cut but also prepare myself mentally because I was going to do a second season, without any real vacation. ” An important mental preparation for a change of league, football but especially environment, an essential criterion for the 27-year-old player: “A footballer is a man, we often forget him. Would the United States be a good choice for my career? And for my everyday life, knowing that I attach a lot of importance to my personal balance? And my family ? And my friends from Rennes, many, so important to me? I opened up to them, even though I knew the final decision would be mine anyway. ”
MLS, more intense than Ligue 1?
After signing a contract for three seasons plus an option, the second most expensive recruit in the young history of Minnesota went straight into the deep end after the regularization of his situation: his first appearance will be as a starter against at Real Salt Lake, where the Loons will seek the point of draw and thus symbolically avoid occupying the place of red lantern of the Western Conference. It will not take much time for him to be decisive: on June 23, Évryen signs his third start in a row against Austin FC. Hunou rises higher than everyone at the entrance to the area to register his first goal under his new colors and the goal of the break for his family (2-0). Rebelote three days later against the title holders, the Portland Timbers: like a fox of the surfaces, he gets rid of the defensive marking to take back the center of Franco Fragapane, already decisive passer on his first achievement, to deceive the opposing goalkeeper alone and offer three important points in the race for qualifying places for the play-offs (1-0). Over the course of the season, it will no longer be as effective but will shine at the opportune moments: a double to turn things around against the Houston Dynamo (2-1), a goal to put the Loons in good shape against Philadelphia ( 3-2 victory).
The most recent was on November 8 against Los Angeles Galaxy during a spectacular meeting (3-3), a point which consolidates the place of Minnesota United in 5th place in the Conference. A first exercise in North America, and already after a few months of contention in this new league, the 27-year-old striker felt a real difference between MLS and Ligue 1, even comparing it to the Premier League: “The practice of football, of the game, is different. The physical commitment required is more intense, it is energetic, impactful football, which requires more repetitions of efforts. In MLS, contrary to what I was able to know in France or to what I observed in Europe, the management of strong and weak times hardly exists. Everything is done with energy, everything leans for a game very focused on the front. Almost in the English will you tell me what is not wrong to have exchanged a little with players who have had experience in the Premier League. And it’s not unique to Minnesota United FC or our English coach, Adrian Heath. It’s a general trend, a style. A lot of South American players play in MLS, and it is therefore no coincidence that we are confronted … «