One such player, 19-year-old forward Shandon Hopeau, is already well on his way to showcasing his talent at the MLS level. He’s number 37, and he is just one of the many talented young men who are making a name for themselves in the United Soccer League.
Originally hailing from Kapolei, Hawaii, Hopeau was sandwiched between two sisters. His family was already actively playing sports when he began experimenting with which sports seemed to click within him. He discovered his love of soccer at a young age.
“My mom had me try out for a bunch of different sports,” Hopeau recalls. But soccer, it seemed, was the one that called to him the most. “I asked my mom to train every day. And because my mom took it seriously with me, I’m here now.”
Their approach seems to have worked. In 2014, Hopeau was chosen to go to Spain to participate in the Real Madrid Select camp, an exclusive camp that selects only 36 players around the world. In both 2015 and 2016, Hopeau was named the Oahu Interscholastic Association West’s player of the year.
After a very successful high school career, Hopeau earned the opportunity to play in the all-star game his senior year. His coach was a scout for the US Soccer Development Academy, a top tier youth soccer organization. After some urging from his coach, Hopeau tried out and played for the organization for about a half a year.
It didn’t take long before the Sounders had their eyes on him, and he even got a chance to play in a couple of games during the 2016 season. Then on March 22, 2017, Hopeau signed his first professional contract with Seattle Sounders FC 2.
Now that he is at the professional level, Hopeau’s training schedule is fierce.
“I wake up around 8:30, have a good breakfast, and then come to training,” he says. This regimen involves activation time (pre-stretching), time on the exercise bike, and some more stretching. Then comes practice. Then time at the gym and lunch. “After lunch, I then recover for the rest of the day for the next day,” laughs Hopeau.
And for those days when he isn’t dedicating his all for his soccer team, Hopeau stresses that he’s just like everyone else.
“I like hanging out with my friends and going to the beach,” says Hopeau with a laugh. “I’m a very laid-back person, very outgoing. There’s never a dull moment.”
When in a crowd or at a party, Hopeau is looking to make sure other people are having a good time before he can.
“I’m looking to give off a good vibe and make sure everyone is happy around me.”
The future is bright for Hopeau, though his humility is still very much intact. “I follow veterans and listen to coaches,” Hopeau admits. “I’m just looking to keep getting better.”
Even at 19, Hopeau is aware of his responsibility as a role model for potential youth soccer players around the world. His advice to those bright-eyed hopefuls is short, sweet, and profound.
“Be yourself, don’t follow,” he says. “Be your own role model. Be the best you can every day. And make sure you practice.”
To learn more about Sounders FC 2, to get tickets, or to discover more about Shandon and other S2 players, go to their website here.