Matthew Hoppe: Another American Footballer Making it Abroad

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Matthew Hoppe burst onto the footballing scene last year. In what was a terrible season for his then club FC Schalke, the young American found himself with the opportunity to lead the line for a top-flight side in Europe. Although Schalke was eventually relegated, the striker still caught the attention of the sporting world when he became just the third American to score a hat-trick in Europe’s top 5 leagues in just his 6th appearance. 

He then went on to lift the North American Gold Cup with the national team. To celebrate his recall to the USMNT squad, we profiled the Californian for our ‘USMNT Stars in the Making Series’

EARLY CAREER

Matthew Hoppe didn’t have the easiest ride to the top. A 2019 tryout in Gelsenkirchen was the last chance saloon for the American who had been cut from the LA Galaxy academy after just one year. He had decided that if the audition didn’t work out, he would then enroll in college at San Diego State University. As it turned out, following the trial, the German side almost demanded the striker signed an academy contract on the spot.

Hoppes’ work ethic and willingness to do the extra work saw him have a moderately successful season with the Schalke U-19s squad, where he scored five goals in 20 appearances. 

A TASTE OF SENIOR FOOTBALL

After spending almost four months back in California at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the young American was rewarded with a promotion to the senior side. It was with Schalke II in the German 4th division, and it is fair to say that he did not set the league on fire.

In 16 appearances, the Orange County native struggled with just one goal and one assist. But with the first team in complete and utter disarray – he was handed an unlikely chance to play senior football in the Bundesliga.

THRUST INTO THE SPOTLIGHT

The club just needed a player who would work hard and make forward runs. The 6’3” front man seized the opportunity with both hands. He made his first-team debut in a 4-1 defeat to Gladbach and took another few games to get up to speed with the rigors of Bundesliga football. In just his 6th appearance he would net a hat trick against Hertha Berlin in a 4-0 victory for Schalke.

The then 19-year-old would become a mainstay in the Schalke starting XI, starting all but one game. He would score six goals in 23 appearances as Die Knappen found themselves relegated to Bundesliga 2.

THE SPANISH INQUISITION

In the craziness that was this past summer’s transfer window, Matthew Hoppe was the 25th player to be let go by Schalke as he signed a four year deal with La Liga side RCD Mallorca. After completing the €3.5 million deal, he was given shirt number 25.

So far this season he has made two appearances for the Spanish side, as he becomes accustomed to plying his trade in brand new surroundings.

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USMNT CAREER SO FAR

Matthew Hoppe made his USMNT debut in the North American Gold Cup group stage match against Martinique, where he set up the winner in the USA’s 1-0 victory. The Orange County native would become a mainstay in the side for the rest of the competition and would score his first international goal against Jamaica in the quarter-finals.

He also played the whole 120 minutes as Team USA defeated Mexico 1-0 to lift the trophy. Matthew Hoppe may not be a guaranteed starter at the moment for the Stars and Stripes, but he has shown that he isn’t averse to the hard work that it would take to make that happen. And that can only be a good thing for the USMNT going forward.

USMNT Golden Generation Profile Series

Christian Pulisic      Gio Reyna      Sergino Dest    Weston McKennie    Zack Steffen    Tyler Adams

USMNT Stars in the Making Series

Yunus Musah   Reggie Cannon   Mark McKenzie   Brendon Aaronson   Chris Richards  Tim Weah

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