Recently relegated Schalke will invite teams made up exclusively of young US players for trials in Germany, the club have confirmed.
Schalke have put together a team of U18 ISA prospects, who will train at the club's vaunted Knappenschmiede academy and play exhibition matches in club colours. The squad will fly out to Germany in August.
"Players will experience what a myriad of youth international players already have — the life of a professional with a rigorous training schedule, stimulating school curriculum, and challenging test matches against top youth Bundesliga clubs.
Translation: In August, the Knappenschmiede youth academy will welcome 20 young Americans through its doors
"With a strong reputation for producing real footballing talent and a long list of success stories, Schalke has a history of recognizing American talent," reads the Schalke pledge, in a nod to Weston McKennie and Matthew Hoppe.
"On the youth level, success is not primarily measured by the team’s final score. While there is no substitute for competition and performing well under pressure, success is defined by the development and achievement of individual players.
"The Academy’s world-class training objectives are clear - encourage and challenge each player, and instill the skills and knowledge required to advance to the next level."
Watch: US Bundesliga stars - a golden generation
Schalke has shaped the careers of some of the Stars and Stripes' brightest young talents in the recent past. McKennie was 18 when he joined the club from FC Dallas in August 2016. By the time he switched to Italian giants Juventus in summer 2020, the all-action midfielder was some 91 competitive games better off.
As for Hoppe, he became the first American in Bundesliga history to score a hat-trick in January 2021, on what was only his fifth league start. The Californian ended the campaign with a further 17 top-flight appearances under his belt, as the Royal Blues' six-goal top scorer.
The 20-year-old's inclusion in a recent USMNT training camp capped a stunning breakout season.
"FC Schalke 04 believed in me and gave me the opportunity to make my Bundesliga debut," Hoppe said.
Watch: Meeting Matthew Hoppe
Schalke are not the first German club to forge transatlantic talent programmes.
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