In each of his four starts in 2019, winger and Defiance Team Captain, Shandon Hopeau, took the reins of leadership. Not the eldest player, nor with the most professional experience, the young man from Kapolei, Hawaii wears the armband. With that comes the responsibility of leading a band of young men in defiant black.
Tacoma Defiance coach Chris Little starts each season with a leadership council, a meeting of the players showing the confidence and heart to stand tall on the field. On matchday, Little selects his captain based on a few factors.
Are they fit?
Hopeau is healthy, practiced with Seattle Sounders FC during preseason, and is performing well to start the season.
Can they perform?
“Performance – he lead by example. We have the leadership council and in that group you look at who is starting, who is having an influence and are on the field,” Little told TacDefiance.com.
“Sam Rogers, for example, is injured. At the moment, it’s difficult for him to be captain on the field. There’s a combination that Shandon’s established himself in the starting group and his performance level, we thought with the First Team going into the start of the season, warranted that. There’s a bit of continuity as he served in that role as well.”
Hopeau earned a callout on the USLChampionship.com Team of the Week bench in the USL season’s first week. Entering week six, he has an assist, two key passes, and is third on the team in minutes played with 325.
At just 20 years old, Shandon embraces his role and is putting his stamp on it.
That role anchors around his play on the field.
“Last year, I had a meeting about having the captain’s armband,” Hopeau said. “[Former coach John Hutchinson] told me I lead in a different way. Not vocally, but through the way I play.”
That play is forged in enthusiasm and bringing life to the attack.
“The first time I got the armband, I felt I had to lead the team. I feel like every single one of us is a leader on the field in different ways, so I’m just there to support by giving good spirit and energy throughout the game.”
Coach Little praised Hopeau’s movement ahead of the attack after the team’s 2-1 win over Sacramento Republic on April 1. Hopeau entered as a sub for goal-scorer Henry Wingo, where his probing runs unlocked space for the forward, right back, and central midfielders.
Going forward, Hopeau’s efforts will pay off by showing his team that success for all is the essential key, even when off-ball movement isn’t always rewarded with a ball at your own feet.
Our defiant captain continues to grow into comfort, both in his continued growth at the professional level, and in his role at the helm of the ship. The once-shy kid from Hawaii is comfortably defiant, representing Tacoma valiantly on its voyage through the uneasy waters of competition in the USL Championship.