The Story of Matthew Hoppe, Another US Talent in German Football

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“Ever studied La Masia”

1NEWS – Matthew Hoppe is now recognized as one of the other talented young US players who can show his best in the Bundesliga competition and in just six months, his goal achievement is quite good. All thanks to one of the most difficult seasons his former club, Schalke, has ever experienced.

The USMNT striker emerged in the German top flight in the 2020/21 season with the Royal Blues and now joins RCD Mallorca after two years at Gelsenkirchen.

Casual Bundesliga fans from around the world may not be aware that Hoppe has moved from the sunny west coast state of California in the summer of 2019 to join one of European football’s most respected and respected academies at Schalke.

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Hoppe, born in March 2001, played at Barca Residency Academy USA in the Development Academy Southwest Division before moving to the Royal Blues. There, he was moved from midfield to attack after his coach saw his natural ability to score goals.

“I think it’s something that comes naturally to me because I’m going to get a lot of goals growing and I think I’m usually one of the better players on my team,” said Hoppe.

“When I went to Barca’s academy with Sean McCafferty, I actually played in midfield, like a No.8 or No.10 position, and then he got me in as a striker.

“I kept saying ‘Put me back in midfield’ but he said I have a natural goalscoring instinct. I played two seasons there, my first two seasons as a striker, and I was the top goalscorer in the country, so I think I’ve done it instinctively. Since then, I’ve been able to come here and then develop it. And recently I was able to show it to the world, so that’s a special thing for me.”

Prior to his move to the Royal Blues, Hoppe scored 29 goals in 23 games in the 2018/2019 season, helping his team finish top of the league by a margin of over 36 goals. Among his goals, there have been two hat-tricks scored on one weekend in March 2019 – two of the five trebles he has won during the competition.

Despite only playing as a striker for two years, Hoppe moved to Schalke and joined the club’s Under-19 team.

After scoring six goals in 36 appearances, Hoppe was called up to the Schalke first team for the first time at the end of November 2020. That call-up came with the Royal Blues without a win from the first eight games of the 2020/2021 season.

Hoppe made his debut and completed 81 minutes for the Royal Blues which ended in a 4-1 loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach.

In his subsequent appearances as a substitute, Hoppe continued to improve his attacking form and often inspired the team to keep fighting for the three points. And sure enough, just for the second time as a starter in professional football, Hoppe announced himself not only to the Bundesliga but also to fans around the world, especially in the United States when he scored a hat-trick.

Against Hoffenheim, after 14 league games without a win, Hoppe single-handedly dismantled the Die Kraichgauer defense with a superb hat-trick – becoming the first and only American to do so in the Bundesliga. In the 4-0 win, Hoppe was man of the hour and the now 20-year-old has nothing to say about his three goals.

“I don’t know how it feels,” Hoppe told bundesliga.com.

“I’m happy, I’m happy the team got the win and I can contribute to that. It gives confidence, it gives some momentum. Hopefully, we can keep winning and we can stay high in the first division.”

Hoppe then scored again in the next two Bundesliga matches against Eintracht Frankfurt and Cologne. The player from the country of Uncle Sam was then known to be the last hope for Schalke in maintaining their position in the Bundesliga, but unfortunately, of course Hoppe alone could not save a team whose performances were very inconsistent.

The Royal Blues won twice again in 2020/21, with Hoppe providing a goal and assist in the win over Frankfurt on the penultimate day of the season. But despite relegation, Hoppe has proven himself to be a shining talent for US fans and USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter has had his eye on Hoppe.

Sure enough, Hoppe was called up to his country to play in the summer’s Gold Cup tournament. The 20-year-old assisted once in his first start before scoring in the second half and making a total of four starts as the US beat Mexico in extra time to claim the title – with Hoppe playing 120 minutes.

Having established himself in the Bundesliga and for his country, Hoppe made the decision to leave Schalke on the final day of the 2021 summer transfer window to join Mallorca in La Liga. And the Californian did not forget to thank the club for giving him the opportunity to play in one of Europe’s top competitions.

“I came here two years ago as an 18-year-old from America, and I have been able to grow into who I am today through what I learned during my time here,” Hoppe wrote in a statement on social media.

“To the best fans in the world and the great people of Gelsenkirchen, I thank you for your continued support and for putting your trust in a young man from California. You will forever be in my heart.”

And if Schalke one day return to the Bundesliga, perhaps Hoppe will return to prove that he wasn’t one of those season-only wonderkids.

(muflih miftahul kamal/muf)

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