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Antoine Hoppenot Gets Off The Mark in 2023, Tab Ramos Receives High Praise From Bruce Arena
Following the New England Revolution's 2-1 U.S. Open Cup win over Hartford Athletic on Tuesday, both head coaches had high praise for Hartford's performances despite the loss.
Despite a 2-1 loss and subsequent exit from the U.S. Open Cup at the hands of the New England Revolution on Tuesday, Hartford Athletic fans can take plenty of positives from a spirited performance against the Major League Soccer leaders.
“We had seen them [Hartford] on and off,” Revolution head coach and sporting director Bruce Arena said postgame. “Obviously, we’re friendly with Tab [Ramos]. Tab is an outstanding coach and I think he’s going to be back in this league as a head coach. They did a good job.”
One of those positives is a first goal of 2023 from USL Championship veteran Antoine Hoppenot. Coming into the 2023 season as one of only seven players in USL Championship history to record 30 goals and 30 assists throughout his career, the forward found the back of the net 38 time in 201 appearances over nine seasons prior to his time in Hartford.
Seven games into the season, and Hoppenot finally found his first goal in Green and Blue on Tuesday. It came courtesy of a ball that found it’s way into the bottom right corner off of the forward’s right thigh, connecting on a Prince Saydee cross. After notching an assist in Hartford’s first USL Championship win of 2023 last weekend, the 32-year-old seems to be finding his form at the right time for Hartford.
“It feels good,” Hoppenot said. “I want to score goals, I want to help the team in that aspect. It feels good to get off the mark, and hopefully that will continue and I’ll keep scoring as we go into the league.”
Hoppenot also spoke on his connection with Prince Saydee on the assist, and the trust that the two players shared to connect for the goal.
“It’s one of those situations where I know Prince [Saydee] is gonna get the ball and he’s probably gonna beat his guy, so at that point it’s my job to get in the box and put myself in a situation where I know he’s gonna try to put it in to the box and give me a chance to score,” Hoppenot said.
Arena also praised Hartford head coach Tab Ramos following Tuesday’s performance. The Revolution coach has connections with Ramos dating back to their college days, where Arena initially recruited Ramos as a player.
“[Ramos was] an outstanding player,” Arena said. “Technically, very good. A really competitive guy. As I said, he will be a head coach in this league again one day. He was at Houston a couple years ago, right? So, he’ll be back. He has past experience at the national team level, international level, so he’s an experienced guy. I think the USL is a great opportunity for coaches to move on, polish up their trade, and move on and make their next moves. That’s going to be the case for Tab. He’s going to have other opportunities.”
Ramos called Arena’s support “massive” and said that he looks up to Arena.
“Bruce is someone that everybody, sort of in my generation looks up to,” Ramos said. “Someone who opened a lot of doors for us and we’re following footsteps. I had an opportunity in Houston, it didn’t go as well as I wanted it to. I’m in Hartford now. I’m fully focused on what I’m doing and continuing to learn and becoming a better coach. Hopefully, it’ll be another opportunity in MLS as well.”
Up next, the Green and Blue will return to USL Championship action following with a trip to Birmingham Legion FC on Sunday, looking for revenge after the Legion handed Hartford a 1-0 loss in their home opener on March 25.
“I think we’ve been a little unfortunate this year with the results, but we’ve played well,” Ramos said. “We have a big game this weekend, going down to Birmingham that we’re hoping that we can win.”
Kickoff on Sunday is set for 5 p.m. from Prospective Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama.