Selected last year in the third round of the MLS Supplemental Draft out of Princeton, 22-year-old French-American striker Antoine Hoppenot had made few waves in his rookie season with the Philadelphia Union, scoring just four goals in 25 appearances. But earning significant action in the Union’s final group match against Toronto FC at the Disney Pro Soccer Challenge in Orlando, Hoppenot showed the pace and vision that led Philadelphia to take a flyer on the prospect. The young forward scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal in the 8th minute and set up midfield engine Roger Torres for an insurance goal just before halftime, proving to be the driving force behind the Union’s 3-0 blanking of Toronto FC on the final group day of action.
The first goal built up out of midfield, Torres and Michael Lahoud working the ball forward, before Lahoud slotted on to Hoppenot. Fighting his way to just outside the box, Hoppenot unleashed a low screamer with his left foot that passed under Toronto goalkeeper Joe Bendik. The teams traded possession, but it was the Union who continued to enjoy the majority of chances thanks to Torres anchoring a solid all-around midfield effort. The Colombian #10 was rewarded for his work rate and persistence in the 40th minute. Hoppenot passed in to Torres left of goal; the midfielder cut back on Toronto center back Gale Agbossoumonde, then blasted his own left-footed shot past Bendik to put Philadelphia up 2-0 at halftime.
The third goal came six minutes after the intermission. Philadelphia, unrelenting in their attack, earned a corner kick. In the ensuing scramble it fell to the feet of right back Matt Kassel, the former New York Red Bulls homegrown player who was waived last season and is with the Union on a trial basis this preseason. Taking his chances, Kassel showed off his left foot with a shot through the chaos that stymied Bendik.
With the victory, Philadelphia finished second behind the Columbus Crew with four points in Group A and will face Sporting Kansas City in the third-place match on Feb. 23. Toronto fell behind the Union with the loss, finishing one point behind for third in the group; they will face DC United in the preceding match next Saturday.