When the Seattle Sounders faced off against the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday, there were some new faces on the bench as the match kicked off.
In the 58th minute, Hopeau, 20, entered the match as a substitute for Justin Dhillon. It was his MLS debut, and the realization of a goal he had set when he left Hawaii to join the Sounders youth setup when he was just 17 years old.
“There’s not many words I can say to explain my feelings when Brian called my name to go on the field,” Hopeau said after the match. “It was a good experience for me. Coming from USL, the quality of play is much better.”
A breakout star in the youth ranks, Hopeau is now in his third year as a fully-fledged professional. The Hawaiian winger is in the midst of a banner season, blending consistent defensive contributions with four goals and three assists. So, when the Sounders found themselves shorthanded due to international call-ups for the Rapids fixture, Hopeau was poised to take the next step on his professional pathway.
In 30 minutes of action on the pitch, Hopeau won all three of his duels, led the team with five possession recoveries and completed 84.6% of his 13 pass attempts. A quick, clever and direct winger, he showed flashes of the creativity that has made him so influential at the USL Championship level.
Hopeau earned a free kick in a dangerous area late in the match with a mazy dribbling run
“He’s done well in practice for us throughout the year when he has come up,” said Sounders FC midfielder Harry Shipp. “I was happy for him. Wish we could have had a better result for him to get that debut in. Hopefully it’s just the start of a bright career for him.”
Now one of the more senior players on a young but talented Defiance team, he’s grateful for the opportunity to advance his career and impress the coaching staff.
“I think it was a good experience for me, getting those 30 minutes,” said Hopeau. “I feel like I can really play in this league.”
The Sounders return to action on Sunday with a match against the New York Red Bulls at CenturyLink Field (3:00 p.m. PT; JOEtv, YouTube TV, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360AM | TICKETS).