Antoine Hoppenot is determined to become a 90-minute player.
After all, who wouldn’t want to start and play the entire match?
For much of this season, Hoppenot has become the Philadelphia Union’s super-sub, the type of player who comes in around the 70th minute and provides a spark. It’s a role he has embraced.
Hoppenot simply wants to play, whether it’s one minute or 90 minutes.
“A lot of players don’t have the opportunity to say that, that they know they’ll pretty much always get an opportunity to play during a game,” Hoppenot said. “I enjoy it. Obviously of all the players out there, everybody wants to be a 90-minute player. But for me, a second-year player, still young, it’s great. It’s great to know that I have an opportunity to get to play and show what I can do.”
Hoppenot has two goals and two assist in 430 total minutes in 17 matches.
Those numbers could escalate with the departure of Jack McInerney for the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The Union are back in action on Friday against Chivas USA (7:30 p.m., purchase tickets) in a match in which Hoppenot undoubtedly will be counted on to provide a late spark.
And for him?
“Really, for me, it’s nothing different,” said the 21-year-old Hoppenot. “You’ve got to come to training and prepare the same way every day. You’ve got to come ready to go and keep your focus. If you do that, everything will take care of itself.”
At Princeton, Hoppenot was used to being on the pitch all the time.
When he got to the Union last season, there was a natural adjustment period. He’s adjusting even in his second season.
“I think getting that first year under my belt really helped a lot,” Hoppenot said. “Having been through the league as a rookie, I saw a lot of different things. Now in my second year, I feel like I’m a little more experienced, even with just the one season behind me. I prepare every day like I’m playing. Coming in as a sub, I have to be ready to bring that energy. That’s my job.
“It is a mental type of game as well, but I think I’m doing well and I’m excited to play whenever the coaching staff calls my name.”
Manager John Hackworth has consistently called Hoppenot’s name all season. The trend is likely to continue.
“I hope so,” Hoppenot said with a smile. “I think coach (Hackworth) trusts me and that gives me a lot of confidence. I want to keep proving what I can do. I think that never stops. You’re always proving yourself in this league. I come to work every day with the same mindset – to work hard. I take that same mentality into the games and try to stay focused on what I need to do to help our club win.
“I want to be a 90-minute player like everyone. For now, if it means I’m coming off the bench, I think it’s great. It means I’m playing and that’s what any player would want.”
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org