If VH1 were to reboot its hit program “Best Week Ever,” Seattle Sounders FC 2 forward Shandon Hopeau’s first seven days as a professional would make him a top contender for the television award.
Within five days of inking a contract with S2, the Hawaiian made the matchday roster for the first team’s friendly versus Club Necaxa and started his first match as a professional in S2’s 2017 USL season-opener 2-1 loss to Sacramento Republic.
Hopeau, the club’s first signing from its Homegrown territory of Hawaii, is blazing a trail for future professionals on the islands. However, it was a former Sounders standout who inspired him to pursue his dream in Seattle.
“I was inspired by Zach Scott because he’s from Maui,” said Hopeau of Scott, who spent 15 years with the USL and MLS Sounders before retiring after last season. “He inspired me to come here and try to pursue a professional contract.”
As a kid who left home before his senior year of high school and moved thousands of miles away, the past week has justified Hopeau’s decision to bet on himself in pursuit of a professional career. When the club announced his signing, his phone immediately filled up with congratulatory text messages from friends, family and kids with whom he grew up.
Although he feels immensely proud to represent such a massive club, the Hawaiian isn’t one to rest on his laurels.
“I’m definitely stoked to sign my first professional contract,” Hopeau said after his first official training session. “I just want to come out here and work hard every day so I can hopefully get a first team contract.”
Thanks in large part to the organization’s commitment to developing first-team quality players internally, Hopeau had already played several professional games before agreeing to terms with the club. He started the final match of the 2016 USL season for S2 shortly after joining the Academy and featured for the first team throughout preseason.
But nothing could prepare Hopeau when he walked onto the XBOX Pitch at CenturyLink Field for the first time for the friendly against Necaxa with 30,000-plus supporters in the stands.
“Today was the most excitement I’ve ever had playing soccer, even though I didn’t go in,” Hopeau said shortly after the friendly. “[Being in front of that many people] definitely gave me the chills as I was warming up, and it just made me want to work even harder so I can make the first team.”
If Hopeau is to achieve his dream of signing a first-team contract, he’ll need to impress the coaching staff with his performances for S2 in USL this season. He’ll get his next opportunity at Starfire this Sunday (2 p.m. PT | TICKETS) when Portland Timbers 2 come to town for a Cascadia clash.