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Frederic Brillant adjusting to life in U.S., playing with D.C. United

October 12, 2018

Moving to a foreign country is never easy, even for a pro soccer player.

Throw in the addition of having a wife and now two young children in tow makes the transition even harder, but Frederic Brillant is getting used to the adjustment.

The French defender is in his first year with D.C. United after two seasons with New York City FC.

He made the move to Major League Soccer in 2016 after playing five years in Belgium, not far from his home in France.

“New York was a great experience for me. It was my first time in the USA,” Brillant said. “For my family it was a great experience. Especially in New York, it is a big city. New York was a little bit busier than Washington.”

The 6-foot-3 Brillant, 33, has been a mainstay on defense for D.C. United, which hosts first-place Dallas on Saturday at 4:55 p.m. He has played in 23 of 30 matches, with 20 starts and one assist.

The Washington team has just four regular-season matches left and is trying to reach the playoffs, which means finishing in the top six in the Eastern Conference.

D.C. United (11-11-8, 41 points) enters the weekend in seventh, just back of sixth-place Montreal (13-15-4, 43). Atlanta United FC (20-6-6, 66) is in first in the East while Dallas (16-6-9, 57) leads the Western Conference.

“It is going to be a tough game, like every game,” Brillant said. “We are going to play our game, with confidence.”

“We have another most important game of the season (this) weekend,” United coach Ben Olsen said. “I trust our guys are up for it.”

D.C. United is 10-2-2 at home, and had more than 20,000 fans on hand Sunday as the hosts came back from a 1-0 deficit in the second half to beat the Chicago Fire 2-1.

“These are the games we have to win,” striker Wayne Rooney said of the comeback victory. “That is what we want to do.”

″(Audi Field) is very exciting. There is a good ambience and atmosphere,” Brillant said. “It is good to have a full stadium. Right now we are playing with confidence.”

Rooney has been another key since the former English captain arrived in July.

Brillant made two trips to Manchester United to watch Rooney play years ago and now they are teammates for the first time.

“It is an honor to play with a guy like this,” Brillant said. “He is a great guy and a very good player. He wants to win all of the time.”

England and France have been rivals on the pitch for decades and on the battlefield for well, centuries.

But Brillant downplayed any such tension on his current club.

Brillant said the England-France rivalry “is not (negative) like everyone thinks.”

Brillant arrived in the U.S. two years before Rooney, living near the New York City FC practice facility in White Plains, New York.

There is a photo of Brillant and his wife at Niagara Falls on a soccer website, and the family has tried to travel on off days to see as much of the United States as they can.

Brillant was acquired by D.C. United from New York FC last Dec. 10 in exchange for $75,000 of general allocation money and a 2018 international slot. Brillant signed a two-year contract with D.C. United.

Now he and his wife and two girls, ages 2 and 3, are living in Arlington. Life is easier now for Brillant than that first year in the U.S.

“At first it was a little bit of a challenge,” Brillant said. “I didn’t speak English three years ago.”

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