ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Rowdies announced on Thursday the signing of veteran forward Antoine Hoppenot and talented youngster Malik Johnson for the 2019 USL Championship season. The signings are pending league and federation approval.
Hoppenot played the previous two seasons in the Western Conference with Reno 1868 FC while Johnson has been in the Toronto FC organization since 2013 when he was a 15-year-old academy prospect.
Originally from Paris, Hoppenot has made 104 regular-season appearances in the USL Championship over his career and sits tied for fourth in the league’s modern era with 22 regular-season assists. A key player in the Harrisburg City Islanders’ run to the 2014 USL Cup while on loan from the Philadelphia Union, Hoppenot also made 69 appearances for the Union over four seasons before joining FC Cincinnati for the 2016 USL Championship season.
After a year in Cincinnati, Hoppenot moved to Reno for two highly successful seasons, tallying 17 goals and 19 assists in 67 matches. His 13 assists in 2018 were the third-most in the USL Championship.
“It’s well-known in the Western Conference that Antoine brings a diverse skillset with tons of energy and a high motor to put pressure on his opponents,” Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins said. “He brings real quality to our squad and his assist numbers from the last few seasons offer us something different in our attack.”
Johnson has made 75 appearances in the USL Championship for Toronto FC II, having made his debut in the club’s inaugural season in 2015. A former Canada U20 international, Johnson was named the No. 14 player in the 2016 USL 20 Under 20 and has recorded seven goals and three assists in the USL Championship over his career.
“The quantity of high-level professional games Malik has played at his age is staggering,” Collins said. “He’s only 20 years old, but he knows what it takes to play in this league already. He has speed to burn but he also has the technical quality to beat you one-on-one from wide positions. That will be really exciting for everyone to watch this season.”