For senior defender Rio Hope-Gund, leaving Georgetown University soccer won’t involve the same kind of farewell to his teammates as some other Hoyas following their selection in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft. Hope-Gund joined senior forward Derek Dodson, eighth overall pick and a fellow Hoya, at the Orlando City Soccer Club. The defender was the second Hoya off of the MLS board, chosen 19th overall.
“It is definitely exciting that we got drafted to the same team,” Hope-Gund wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Having somebody you know well and are close to in any new environment is always a good thing, and hopefully it will help the both of us.”
Hope-Gund made enormous strides over the course of his Georgetown career. As a freshman, he did not set foot on the field. By his sophomore season, he was in 16 games and scored two goals. Over the course of the 2018 season, Hope-Gund made his presence known in a back line that shut down opponents all season long and helped the Hoyas advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
His junior year, Hope-Gund picked up right where he left off, starting all 20 games in which he appeared and starring for Georgetown defense when they picked up 13 shutouts.
During the Hoyas’ College Cup run, Hope-Gund contributed offensively as well, setting up two critical Georgetown goals late in the tournament. In the quarterfinal match, he threaded a ball in to Dodson for the goal that put the Hoyas up 2-1 over the University of Washington. The Hoyas had trailed for almost 70 minutes prior.
In the final against the University of Virginia, Hope-Gund redirected a set piece to set up first-year defender Daniel Wu for the go-ahead goal. The Hoyas went on to win the game in penalty kicks for the first national championship in program history.
The championship was everything that Hope-Gund had hoped for.
“One of the best feelings I have ever felt in my life,” he wrote. “Knowing all the hours of hard work we put into last season, understanding the sacrifices that so many guys on the team made, to see it all turn out the way it did was such an amazing feeling.”
Orlando City Soccer Club was pleasantly surprised to see Hope-Gund fall into its lap.
“Hope-Gund was a guy that we rated high and we thought there was a chance he was going to get there to 19, but we thought it was a small chance,” Luiz Muzzi, executive vice president of soccer operations for Orlando City SC, said in a statement. “So, when we saw that he was available we were really happy with that.”
Hope-Gund is still processing the fact that he is headed to the MLS.
“It’s something I have been working toward since I was little and it’s something that is slowly becoming a reality for me,” Hope-Gund wrote. “Still a lot of work to be done, but thankful for the opportunities given to me thus far.”
What remains to be seen is whether Hope-Gund will return to play for Georgetown this spring. No matter what happens, his career with the Hoyas has been stellar. He will be remembered fondly on the Hilltop for years to come.
Caden Koontz is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. Hoya Headlines appears online every other week.