Acclimation doesn't always come easy in Major League Soccer, where culture, climate and cuisine all can complicate life in a new land with a new language.
Midseason transfer Robin Lod didn't score a goal in 10 games after he arrived from a Spanish league in July 2019. After a breakthrough 2020 season, he leads Minnesota United with eight goals in his second full season there.
Enter Adrien Hunou, a French first-division striker who arrived in April after a full season with club Rennes but didn't immediately find his rhythm, routine and role.
Now with four games left in a congested playoff race, Hunou is part of an attacking front four powered by playmaker Emanuel Reynoso and growing productive now that Franco Fragapane is back from injury and Lod is back from international duty.
Hunou also is second only to Lod in goals with six after he scored in Wednesday's clutch 3-2 home victory over Philadelphia.
"We all are dangerous and it's good," Hunou said. "It's getting better. We have had a lot of injuries and I just arrived a few months ago. So it's not easy finding a good atmosphere. But it's better when you play. It's getting better day after day, game after game."
Hunou, Lod and Fragapane scored all three goals Wednesday, assisted on two of them by Reynoso's playmaking.
"This is when you need everybody performing at their best level," teammate Wil Trapp said. "Last game, you started to see our attackers do what we need from them."
Wednesday's victory moved the Loons up a spot into the Western Conference's sixth place. That's two points away from fourth and a home playoff game and two away from eighth place and out of the playoffs altogether. The next biggest game of the season is Saturday against a desperate, ninth-place Los Angeles FC team at Allianz Field.
Loons coach Adrian Heath praised Hunou after Wednesday's game, saying he "looked like the player we know is in there."
Hunou followed Loons starting defenders Romain Metanire and Bakaye Dibassy from France to Minnesota in a pipeline other MLS teams such as L.A. Galaxy have mined, too. Mature and well-coached from their academy days, such experienced players are what Heath called "good value for good money."
Hunou, 27, comes with a Designated Player tag and $2.6 million salary — more than twice that of any teammate — because strikers are paid big to score goals.
Still, he has had his adjustment period.
"Sometimes it's a little more difficult than people on the outside think when you move to a new country," Heath said. "I don't want to make excuses for him. He was maybe a bit disappointed when he first got here. But the best of him is ahead for sure. We've seen glimpses of it."
Hunou has both started and subbed in since his May debut. He moved back up top in the 11 three games ago.
"I feel very comfortable because when you play every game, that is better for me," he said. "When I finished a season in Europe and I begin another season, it's not easy for me, discover a new country and learn a new language. But I don't find any excuses. For me, it's another experience. I have to do my best to help my teammates and I feel confident for the games to come."
Hunou has immersed himself into that new language, doing a postgame interview in English that is better than he thinks it is.
"His English is good, getting better," Heath said. "But we certainly know there's more to come from him."
Heath was asked if Hunou's English is better than Heath's French.
"It's better than my English," Heath said. "He's an educated kid."