ST. PAUL -- Fanendo Adi was cleaning dishes in the kitchen of his Portland, Ore., home when Minnesota United called him in August.

The Loons needed another striker after releasing Ramon Abila, and with the MLS secondary transfer window closed, the club could only sign free-agent players up to the roster freeze date Sept. 15.

Adi, who has 55 goals in 150 career MLS games, had spoken with MNUFC earlier in the season but a contract didn’t materialize then. The 30-year-old Nigerian had an offer to go back to a club in Slovakia, where his career got off the ground with Tencin in 2012-14, but that didn’t come together either.

In the meantime, Adi has been working on his master’s degree in business administration online at Southern New Hampshire University. So, was he thinking about retirement from soccer?

“A lot of things crossed my mind,” he said.

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After a few down years with FC Cincinnati and Columbus Crew, Adi said he was working hard to stay fit and was ready when the Loons invited him to train in Minnesota two weeks ago. He showed manager Adrian Heath and staff enough for Minnesota to sign Adi to a minimum salary for the rest of the 2021 season. The club has an option to bring him back for the 2022 season.

“To get a chance now, it’s thank you to the coaches because it is a little bit tricky and different,” Adi said. “I haven’t played in a while, so for them to give me the opportunity again is amazing. I have to work hard to pay them back for believing in me and having trust in me.”

Adi debuted in the Loons’ 2-1 victory over the Dynamo in Houston on Aug. 28. He was expecting to play 10-15 minutes, but was on the field for a half hour. He had a secondary assist, a clever backwards flick, which went to Ethan Finlay, who gave it to fellow forward Adrien Hunou for the winning goal.

“When I’m on the pitch, you can see I’m very free,” Adi said. “I’m expressing myself the way I used to, so it’s all about that freedom. Don’t get tense, no matter who you are. Sometimes you get tense because things have not been going well. For me, at this point, it’s just that Adrian really has given me the freedom. He isn’t telling me to do a specific thing. He is just telling me to go out there and enjoy.”

The Loons are taking a flyer on Adi, who had 51 goals over four seasons for Portland Timbers from 2014-17. His production slipped to three goals in his final season in Oregon in 2018.

Then Adi’s numbers slipped to one goal and no assists in 695 minutes with Cincinnati in 2019. He rejoined former Timbers coach Caleb Porter in Columbus a year ago but didn’t get on the scoresheet in 175 minutes with the Crew. Adi chalked up the down years to minor injuries.

“I had a little bit of knock injuries that I couldn’t really figure out,” Adi said. “Caleb, who is somebody who knows me and knows my abilities, so I knew that if I get there, he was going to give me an opportunity. I got a little knock and I was out for 14 days. Came back, started training very well, got an opportunity … then got a knock. Those knocks just keep you away.”

Adi, a former Designated Player, says he has a big personality to match his 6-foot-4 frame, but learned during his two years in Ohio to try to temper it.

“I’m a big guy, I’m a vocal guy, so I learned to shut up a little bit,” he said with a laugh. “Just keep quiet. Don’t say anything.”

From their time together with the Timbers, Adi has an advocate in United assistant coach Sean McAuley. “It helps a lot obviously … having one of the coaches who has worked with you before and knows my characteristics and knows my abilities,” Adi said.

It will be interesting to see how Heath uses Adi for the rest of the season. Will he play more up top alongside Hunou or will Adi more often be used as a late sub?

Adi said regardless of where or how much he plays, he has rekindled passion.

“I still felt like I need to play,” he said. “I still have the motivation to play and being off the pitch for the last six months has really brought my motivation to the highest level I’ve ever had since I’ve been in America. I don’t think I had the same motivation when I was even in Portland. As much as I’m motivated, I want to prove to myself that I can still do it.”