Across the Twitterverse this past Saturday, many soccer fans asked in earnest: “Who the heck is Matthew Hoppe?”
Their interest was more than justified, as the 19-year-old became the first American – not Christian Pulisic, not Josh Sargent, not Eric Wynalda – ever to tally a hat trick in the Bundesliga. The feat led Schalke 04 to their first league win in 30(!!!) matches.
So, who the heck is Matthew Hoppe? Born in suburban Los Angeles, he played for the Barcelona Residency Academy in Arizona before signing with Schalke in the summer of 2019. His hat trick came in only his fifth appearance with the club.
Schalke has long had an American presence – alumni include Jermaine Jones, Thomas Dooley and McKennie (who is still technically with the club while on loan at Juventus, though that move is expected to become permanent).
The performance no doubt renewed “Hoppe” (get use to this pun, everybody) for the struggling club.
But what about his prospects with the USMNT? It’s hard to see Schalke releasing him for Olympic qualifiers in a couple months, but should we have a Euro-based friendly or two this spring, Gregg may want to see what he can do. At any rate, with the Gold Cup, (possibly) the Olympics and then World Cup qualifying on the horizon, we’re gonna need a lot of depth at every position – and there may not be a spot with more opportunity than striker.
Here’s to seeing many more goals by the kid from Cali – both for club and country.