HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Major League Soccer plans to return to play later this July, with most of the country still waiting for sports to return amid the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
For Shandon Hopeau, a call from the Seattle Sounders FC was the realization of a childhood dream ― even if it came at the country’s most tumultuous period of his lifetime.
“Back in Hawaii it was just a dream to me, I didn’t know if it was going to come true or not,” Hopeau said. “But once I got the call I had some sense of relief because the path to the pros is not always a straight path.”
A straight path it was not. The Kapolei High School graduate was promoted to the Sounders first team after spending the last four years on their USL affiliate team, the Tacoma Defiance.
Hopeau made his brief MLS debut in 2019, against the Colorado Rapids, but was then sent back to the Defiance for the 2020 season before play was suspended. During the abrupt time off, the former Hurricane remained ready to play ― whenever that time would be.
“So during the quarantine period, our (physical trainer) actually sent us a bunch of workouts,” Hopeau said. “So that we come in ready to play games, ready to go 90 minutes and all that stuff, so it takes some sort of discipline to go out everyday on your own and do all that kind of stuff.”
Hopeau’s hard-work mentality is something he hopes will define his career, while also setting a good example for the local athletes here in the 808.
“It’s a lot of pressure, but for me, I’m looking to pave a pathway for other athletes in Hawaii, try to get them exposure, getting scouts to go to Hawaii to look for players.” Hopeau said.
As the MLS tries to maintain the safety of their teams, new guidelines will be put in place when teams arrive in Orlando, including mandatory testing twice a week ― along with daily temperature checks and social distancing on the sidelines.
Despite the new normal, the 2016 OIA West Player of the Year is ready to get back onto the field and help his team win.
“I try to not think that way, I just try to play my game and just do what I love to do and just have fun and contribute towards the club.” Hopeau said.
The MLS is Back Tournament is set to kick-off July 8, with Hopeau and the Sounders playing July 10 against the San Jose Earthquakes in Orlando, Florida.
Kick-off is set for 4:30 p.m. Hawaii Time on ESPN.