Waiting patient and in the shallows, Shandon Hopeau is ready to surge forward in 2020. Like the powerful Pacific surging forward with a mighty riptide, the offense of Tacoma Defiance will go where the 21-year-old winger from the Hawaiian Islands takes it. Weaving around defenses with the ball at his feet, Shandon Hopeau is instinctively dedicated to attacking the net. About to enter his fifth season matching up against professionals, the Sounders FC Academy product is an aqueous presence on the pitch.
Relentless, Hopeau is unswayed by failures. There is a strong current within him, carrying the young player towards his ambition. Struggle seems to inspire more effort and persistence, and it pays off.
Back in 2016, Shandon earned a cup of coffee with S2. Now, at just barely drinking age, with Defiance he earned his call to the Seattle Sounders. He appeared in the U.S. Open Cup match here at Cheney Stadium and in MLS play earned 32 minutes in the away match at the Colorado Rapids in 2019.
As predictable as the incoming and outgoing waters, his career keeps advancing. He has shown he is ever steady like waves crashing onshore. That persistence should erode away even the strongest of defenses across America this USL season.
When asked to speak on his philosophy, Bruce Lee once said, “be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it.”
At its best, Shandon’s game could be that water. He is slippery on his feet, finding his way through traffic like the surf passes through and around piers along the shore. That elusiveness would be the envy of any martial artist.
It’s also what he does as he passes through an opposing defense that makes him so potent. Like liquid through the smallest crack, there is no quit. Last year he netted his first goal in his 12th game of the season, a late May 3-3 draw with Fresno FC. The season did not shift massively. His fundamentals were there, and so he kept asking questions of the other teams.
By the end of the year, the impact was obvious. Of the players under contract with Tacoma Defiance, none had a better year attacking the net. He finished with 5 goals and 4 assists. He was the team’s shots leader as well, taking nearly three a match.
Where Hopeau’s attacking prowess showed a natural growth curve, his work effort and results when the opponent had the ball surged in ways no one saw coming. No longer was he satisfied to merely pester the opposition. In 2019, he became a willing destroyer of shipping lanes and ball carriers.
His evolution defensively not only helped his own career prospects but were a demonstration to the rest of the attacking players that this is how Defiance defend from front to back. The team, with him as its example, would protect its goal with full spirit and effort, never giving an inch.
He won 75% of his tackles in 2019 and increased his attempts by more than 50%. His defensive ability is now a current strong enough that opposing coaches have to map around his troubling waters.
Shandon is lean. Packed with power, the winger is more than fast enough. He’s particularly quick at changing his angle of attack, slicing inside from wide spaces, or using a little step to open space. If there are openings, he will find a way to seep through them. Where there is no opening, he will create one through persistent effort.
25 starts | 3 sub appearances | 2,067 minutes | 5 goals | 4 assists | 44 shots | 23 key passes
Looking to 2020
There is a new pattern in the tides of Tacoma. The force of Hopeau has set an unfamiliar, yet welcomed unrest in well-known waters. His actions on the field created a new environment for himself and his team. How those waters spin and eddy could lead to greatness in 2020.
“My heart is with the club and this is where I want to be. This is where I’m happy. I’m happy to be out here and I’m going to give all I’ve got for the club and my teammates.”
This season, that mindset combined with a building on his growing repertoire, could mean a true transformation. All Shandon Hopeau has is the ability to be the most complete winger on the Defiance roster. The realization of that end goal would mean big things for where Tacoma’s ship aims to go now and in the future.
For more on Shandon Hopeau and your 2020 Tacoma Defiance roster:
- Shandon Hopeau Has Emerged as a Defiance Leader Over Past Year
- Shandon Hopeau Provides Spark off Sounders Bench
- Tacoma Defiance Standout Shandon Hopeau Thrilled to Make MLS Debut With Sounders
- Nucleus of Defiance Roster Returns for 2020
- Tacoma Defiance Signs Four to New Contracts
The 2020 schedule is out – Mapping Defiance: Tacoma’s 2020 Campaign.