Schalke's Matthew Hoppe scores first USMNT goal
Schalke forward Matthew Hoppe's first senior international goal fired the USMNT past Jamaica and into the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-finals on Sunday.
Hoppe scored in the 83rd minute at the AT&T Stadium, converting a deflected cross, on what was only his third USMNT appearance and second start. The 20-year-old earned the Man of the Match award for his efforts.
"I think the way he was able to get chances, he had a couple of clear looks at goal and that's due to his movement in the box," US head coach Gregg Berhalter said after opting to keep Hoppe on the pitch with the scoreline poised at 0-0.
"And he was grinding. When a guy puts that type of effort in and hangs in there and keeps going, we want to stick with him because we thought he was doing a good job and because he's goal dangerous.
"It was great to see him score."
Hoppe's milestone goal was his first at any level for his country, and comes hot on the heels of his breakout season as a professional.
Despite scoring just six times in 36 appearances for the Schalke U19s and reserves, the Californian forward finished the 2020/21 Bundesliga season as Schalke's six-goal leading marksman.
He made his debut against Borussia Mönchengladbach on 11 November 2020, before becoming the first American to score a Bundesliga hat-trick, on just his fifth senior outing, in a 4-0 win over Hoffenheim.
Further goals in successive games against Eintracht Frankfurt and Cologne followed, but were not enough to prevent Schalke being relegated. When he struck again - and assisted his first Bundesliga goal - in a 4-3 triumph at home to Frankfurt on the penultimate weekend of 2020/21 - Die Knappen's fate had already been confirmed.
Watch: Get to know Matthew Hoppe
Hoppe was firmly on Berhalter's radar all the same.
"If Matthew continues to score regularly, he will quickly make the leap to the senior team," the former 1860 Munich and Energie Cotbuss midfielder said of the Barca Residency Academy USA graduate earlier this year.
"He has to keep up his form and earn a regular starting place in the Bundesliga. Then he will certainly get a chance."
The US coach stayed true to his word, including the Schalke youngster in his experimental squad for the Gold Cup.
An unused substitute against Haiti, Hoppe marked his debut with a 58-minute run-out and assist against Martinique. He got 15 second-half minutes against Canada, before playing the role of match-winner in the quarter-finals.
Hoppe - who signed his first professional contract with Schalke on 1 February - is in line to win his fourth cap when the US play Gold Cup guests Qatar on 30 July. Canada or Mexico await in the final on 2 August.
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