bundesliga

Schalke's Matthew Hoppe vs. Borussia Dortmund's Gio Reyna: A red, white, blue and yellow Revierderby

There has never been an American goalscorer in meetings between Schalke and Borussia Dortmund - can Matthew Hoppe and Gio Reyna buck the trend on Bundesliga Matchday 22?

Hoppe has every chance.

The 19-year-old has scored five times in 11 appearances since debuting in the Bundesliga on 28 November 2020, and is already Schalke's 2020/21 chief marksman, accounting for a third of their league-low 15 goals after 21 rounds of fixtures.

The rock-bottom Knappen have got themselves into a seriously tight spot, but if anyone can dig them out and close the 10-point gap deficit on the safe house, it's Hoppe.

"The biggest goal is to help Schalke stay in the first division of the Bundesliga," said the Californian striker, who scored with each one of his first five shots on target in the Bundesliga. "That's what my focus is right now but I want to keep scoring goals, keep helping the team any way I can."

Watch: Meeting Matthew Hoppe

Hoppe's next task is a senior prom date with Dortmund. He faced BVB as a freshman in 2019/20, racking up 75 minutes of a 4-0 win in the U19s Bundesliga, but was still kicking about in Germany's fourth tier when Schalke slipped to a 3-0 defeat at the Signal Iduna Park on Matchday 5 of the current top-flight campaign.

Not long kitted out with his first professional contract, Hoppe is set to follow in the footsteps of countrymen Thomas Dooley, David Wagner, Jermaine Jones and Weston McKennie by taking to the Revierderby stage in the Bundesliga. US trio Jovan Kirovski, Christian Pulisic and Reyna have donned black and yellow in the fixture. Still the wait for a star-spangled Revierderby goal goes on.

"Christian and Weston [McKennie] have never scored [in the Revierderby]? That's surprising, I thought Christian would have scored," Reyna told bundesliga.com prior to Dortmund's 3-0 home win over Schalke on Matchday 5.

"To be the first American to score in this derby would be cool, I'm surprised to hear that neither of them have scored, so hopefully I can score."

USA teammates Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie (l-r.) played in a number of Revierderbies. - 2019 DFL

It would be very Reyna to scribe his name into the history books.

Like Pulisic before him, he was able to join Dortmund at the age of just 16, having secured a Portuguese passport through his paternal grandmother.

After playing for the club's U19s team in 2019/20, Reyna was promoted to the senior side during the winter break and made his Bundesliga bow on Matchday 18, breaking Pulisic's record as the league's youngest American debutant.

The former New York City FC prodigy opened his BVB account a few weeks later, scoring in a DFB Cup last-16 defeat to a Werder Bremen outfit spearheaded by 12-time USMNT international Josh Sargent.

Although Reyna's first Bundesliga goal came too late for him to usurp Pulisic as the division's youngest US-born scorer, he had already dethroned the former Dortmund attacker as the greenest American to play in the German top flight and the UEFA Champions League. The fleet-of-foot midfielder also ranks as the first and only 17-year-old - USian or not - to record three assists in a single Bundesliga game.

Watch: Gio Reyna - like father and mother, like son

Having become a regular for Dortmund, Reyna's rise to the USMNT was inevitable.

On his last day as a 17-year-old in November 2020, he played 79 minutes of a 0-0 friendly draw at Wales, lining up alongside Wolfsburg defender John Brooks and RB Leipzig midfielder Tyler Adams. He is the third Reyna to represent a senior US national team after father, Claudio, and mother, Danielle.

Hoppe could be the first of his kind, and next Bundesliga-based American to make the leap.

"If Matthew continues to score regularly, he will certainly get a chance," revealed USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter after Hoppe made history as the first US national to score a Bundesliga hat-trick, in a 4-0 win over Hoffenheim on Matchday 15.

"For him, I think it's just the beginning. Now, it's about just continuing to perform. It's not about one performance, it's about the next performance and the next performance and the next performance. And I think he's got a good mindset and he's ready to do that."

Hoppe's prospects of delivering to the beat of German football's biggest local power struggle are further enhanced by sixth-placed Dortmund's run of one clean sheet across their last 16 league matches.

By the same token, Reyna's nine-match lean spell in front of goal might cease to be against the Bundesliga's most porous defence.

Either way, a red, white, blue and yellow Revierderby can only be good news for the watching Berhalter.

Chris Mayer-Lodge