D.C. United added yet another homegrown player to their squad today, signing attacker Jackson Hopkins to a four-year contract today. Hopkins, 17, played with the team in preseason, scoring a goal against Inter Miami, and has been a regular for Loudoun United in the USL Championship dating back to midway through the 2021 season.
“Jackson has been training with the first team for the last six months and has shown maturity beyond his age both on and off the field,” said United GM Lucy Rushton in a team press release. “He possesses a unique set of skills on the field with size and physicality combined with great feet and awareness on the ball. We are excited to sign Jackson to a Homegrown deal so we can continue to develop his game with eyes on him making an impact on the first team.”
“Jackson started to train with us at the end of last season. We saw [his] qualities, and that’s why we took him with us in preseason,” Losada told reporters today, noting that the 6’2” Hopkins was near the top of the Black-and-Red’s physical testing and that he’s been a part of every training session United has had in 2022. “He’s still young, but I really like his character... He can play in different positions, can be a number 8, a number 10, can play on the wings, can play as a second forward. So, he’s developed a lot, and still a lot to come.”
The Athletic’s Pablo Maurer first reported that Hopkins was going to sign an MLS deal, making him the 18th homegrown player in club history. The signing takes United up to eight homegrown players on the current roster. That’s over 1⁄4 of Hernán Losada’s squad at the moment, a further indicator that United has shifted its footing towards developing talent for the first team in-house.
Losada brought this up to media today as well. “I think (signing homegrowns) is something very special for our club. We put a lot of energy on our homegrowns, and it’s kind of our blueprint. We really want to become a top organization to give opportunities to young players.”
“We’ve been impressed with Jackson since he made his debut with Loudoun United last year. We could tell from the start that Jackson has a unique skill set for someone at 17 years old,” added Loudoun United GM Stewart Mairs in a team press release. “He has a strong physique but he also has intuition with the ball at his feet. We are proud of Jackson for making the deserved jump up to the D.C. United first team and he’s another success story from Loudoun United in our Pathway to Pro program.”
Hopkins, who hails from Fredericksburg, VA, joined United’s academy in 2018, but briefly left it in 2021 for a stint in the New York Red Bulls academy system, only to return shortly thereafter and break in with Loudoun United, where he has made 19 appearances since a debut on July 28, 2021.
Adding Hopkins so shortly after bringing Chris Durkin back to the club and moving the transfer of Taxi Fountas up has rapidly brought United’s squad up to 29 players. While Hopkins figures to see more minutes with Loudoun in 2022, there may be opportunities for him to debut in MLS this year. The make-up of the squad and the need to give young players actual playing time has seen Ted Ku-DiPietro, another homegrown who can play multiple attacking positions, included in as many gameday squads with D.C. as he has with Loudoun thus far this season. Ku-DiPietro made his MLS debut on March 19 at Toronto FC, and was in uniform again on April 2 against Atlanta United.