Schalke striker Matthew Hoppe (l.) and Bayern Munich reserve team defender Justin Che (r.) are both in the USMNT roster for the first time. - © 2021 DFL
Schalke striker Matthew Hoppe (l.) and Bayern Munich reserve team defender Justin Che (r.) are both in the USMNT roster for the first time. - © 2021 DFL
bundesliga

Matthew Hoppe and Justin Che earn first USMNT calls

Schalke striker Matthew Hoppe and 17-year-old Bayern Munich defender Justin Che have been called up to the USMNT for the first time.

The duo are among seven Bundesliga-based players in head coach Gregg Berhalter’s 27-man roster, alongside John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Julian Green (Greuther Fürth), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund) and Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen).

Hoppe’s inclusion for the training camp ahead of a friendly against Switzerland in St. Gallen on 30 May crowns a stunning breakout season for the California native.

The forward made his Bundesliga debut on Matchday 9 against Borussia Mönchengladbach, the first of 21 top-flight outings so far, before truly announcing his arrival in the senior game with a hat-trick in a 4-0 victory over Hoffenheim on Matchday 15 in early January.

The 20-year-old, who was awarded a first professional contract earlier this season on the back of his impressive displays, was on target again last weekend in the Royal Blues’ 4-3 win over Eintracht Frankfurt, taking him to a team-high six Bundesliga goals for the campaign.

“It’s been really great to watch his rise at Schalke,” said Berhalter of Hoppe. “To come on to score three goals in a Bundesliga game was amazing. He’s a young, attacking talent, really good work great, really good energy. We’re really excited to see what he can do with our group.”

Hoppe himself was understandably delighted with his nomination, tweeting out: “Blessed and thankful to represent the USA!”

Watch: Hoppe's goal and assist for Schalke against Frankfurt on Matchday 33

Che’s inclusion is perhaps even more of a surprise. The centre-back was part of a small group of players from Bayern’s partner club FC Dallas invited to train in Munich in January this year, having only turned 17 two months previously.

He impressed the Bayern youth coaches to such an extent that, at the end of that three-week trial, he was signed on loan until the end of the season; the fact he also holds a German passport helping navigate European Union regulations with regard to a work permit.

Although initially earmarked to train and play with the club’s U19s, he made his debut for the Bayern reserves in Germany’s third division in April, coming off the bench in the final minute of a 2-2 draw with Ingolstadt. He has featured in all six of the side’s subsequent league games, starting five times, and has even trained regularly with the first team.

“With Justin, he's a kid who is on loan at Bayern Munich and has done a great job in their youth team and in their second team, and he has earned the opportunity to get called into camp,” Berhalter said. “It’s going to be fun observing him and integrating him into what we do.”

Meanwhile, Bayern academy graduate and Fürth midfielder Green is back in the USA fold after a two-year absence. The 25-year-old, who has 15 USMNT caps and represented his country at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, last appeared on the international scene in November 2018 against England.

Green has been a key member of the Fürth side pursuing promotion back to the Bundesliga this season, contributing eight goals and two assists in 29 appearances so far to leave the Clover Leaves in third place going into the final game of the season.

Reyna, Adams, Brooks and Sargent were all included in Berhalter's 23-man roster to participate in the CONCACAF Nations League in June.