When Shandon Hopeau took his step onto the Cheney Stadium pitch in Wednesday night’s 2-1 loss it was the continuation of a journey he’s been on for several years. It was a progression from Academy to Tacoma Defiance to First Team.
The Defiance vice-captain took two shots in his six minutes, both on goal. Shandon came onto the pitch surrounded by seasoned MLS veterans on both sides of the ball. His Seattle Sounders FC teammates looked for his runs. He rewarded them by completing 90% of his passes and two attempts on goal.
“[Coach] told me to do what I do and get some shots off. I thought I was comfortable. It was big that the team trusted me with the ball. I felt comfortable.”
That comfort and trust comes from playing within the same system for several years.
“It’s the same system throughout the Academy, Tacoma Defiance, First Team. We love to play out of the back. We don’t like to go long. We like to stretch the defense, play through them. That’s how we like to play.”
Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer liked what he saw from his young winger. Hopeau and frequent Defiance player Henry Wingo attacked the Portland goal from opposite flanks.
“When he came on it was a spark as well, just on the opposite side [of Wingo]. When he came in on his right, he just didn’t hit it cleanly,” Schmetzer said postmatch. “The two young kids out wide were effective.”
Hopeau’s energy comes from birth. It is a part of who he is. Being a defiant Sounder for a night is also part of who he is. He is a member of our community of communities within the Sounders umbrella. He is both Tacoma and Seattle.
“When I was on the sideline to go in, I looked at the crowd and I kind of got stage fright. I just told myself ‘I belong here.’ I did what I can do, and felt happy to be out there.”