Matthew Hoppe Views Gold Cup as Stepping Stone in His Career

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Omar Vega / Contributor

Matthew Hoppe’s 2021 year was filled with ups and downs between spells at both the club and international level, but the American striker is riding high with confidence ahead of a new possible chapter as a professional player.

Hoppe is coming off his first inclusion into the U.S. men’s national team, featuring in six matches during the Americans run towards the Gold Cup trophy. The California native scored his first goal and registered his first assist on the international stage, several months after breaking into the first team fold at German side Schalke and becoming the youngest American ever to record a hat trick in the top flight.

Now with a Gold Cup trophy under his belt, Hoppe is eager to be a part of the USMNT’s World Cup Qualifying schedule starting this September.

“It was important for me to be able to come into the Gold Cup and show the coaching staff and my country what I can do,” Hoppe told ONE37pm in an exclusive interview. “I wasn’t able to show a lot of what I could do with my club because of the situations we were in, but I did get the chance at this Gold Cup.

"Now the goal is to keep this form high heading into qualifying and hopefully being able to represent my country again.”

The 19-year-old was one of four European-based players named to Gregg Berhalter’s roster this summer, joining Reggie Cannon, Shaq Moore, and Nicholas Gioacchini in that category. Hoppe’s six month spell with the Schalke first team saw the forward finish with six goals scored and one assist registered in 22 league appearances, although the club did suffer relegation to the 2. Bundesliga by season’s end.

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Chuck Burton/Getty Images

Hoppe has since attracted several top European clubs since his breakout run with Schalke, including English Premier League giants Manchester United, Leicester City, Arsenal and Tottenham. The young forward signed a contract extension with the Gelsenkirchen-based club in February, but could be forced to make a move to remain playing against top-tier opposition.

Whether or not he remains with Schalke long-term is undecided, but Hoppe credits the club for giving him early chances to succeed.

“Unfortunately it was a difficult season for the club with relegation, but I was still able to deliver some goals for Schalke and show that I am capable of playing at a regular level,” Hoppe said. “I think the early experience from last season will give me a lot of confidence heading into this new season and playing big time games with the national team will also help me at club level.

“As a player it’s really nice to hear [when linked with top clubs],” Hoppe said. “I think it’s an amazing opportunity and something I have really worked hard to achieve. Right now my focus is with Schalke, but if something comes up then the club and my agent will handle what’s best for me.”

Hoppe may have been inexperienced at the international level when he joined up with the USMNT this summer, but after 357 minutes of action and a 119-minute performance against Mexico in the final, the forward has surely seen his stock rise in the player pool. Hoppe was able to make an impact in the final third and show positive signs about the work rate and determination he brings when given a chance.

Now with a fierce octagonal round of Concacaf qualifying set to kick off in less than one month’s time, Hoppe has little time to rest as he aims to get back into top shape and top form. The USMNT will take on El Salvador, Canada, and Honduras over a six-day span in early September, all which should include several of the team’s star players including Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Zack Steffen.

Unlike those three, who have major roles on the roster, Hoppe is still fighting to earn a spot in qualifying, but is excited to see the future of U.S. Soccer exceeding expectations in Europe.

“I think the growing number of young players impressing in Europe is great for our program and also will help the competition within the group,” Hoppe said. “Our goal is to show that the United States is capable of doing anything and competing with anybody and so far I think we are showing that.

“It’s only going to give us more confidence as a team and I think we’re growing something pretty special here for the [2022] World Cup,” Hoppe said. “And what’s even better is we get to host the 2026 World Cup so I think by then, everyone will be ready to go and a lot of guys will be in the prime moments of their careers.”

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