A look at a three of Hoppe's goals as he registers first U.S Bundesliga Hat Trick
January 09, 2021
ON SATURDAY, CALIFORNIA teenager Matthew Hoppe turned in one of the most surprising performances from an American abroad when he not only became the first American to register a hat trick in Bundesliga history, but he also did it at a time to snap Schalke’s 30 game winless streak in the German top flight.
The year 2020 was a tough one for many players and while Hoppe, 19, earned his Bundesliga debut for Schalke it was tough to know what to make of it. His contract is set to expire at the end of this season, he wasn’t a prolific scorer for Schalke’s youth teams, and the club was spiraling towards relegation. Hoppe looked like a player who was going to miss out on the cancellation of the U-20 World Cup as a chance to showcase himself to suitors. But after today, he has a enormous spotlight that eclipses anything the youth levels can offer.
His debut came across as a club just looking for a spark – similar to how Aston Villa gave Indiana Vassilev Premier League appearances last season.
But Hoppe has earned the reputation as a young player with a terrific work ethic and a very positive attitude. If Schalke is going to mount some sort of remarkable turnaround to attempt to survive in the top flight against all odds, it will hope that Hoppe’s positive traits are contagious.
On Saturday, however, Hoppe showed that he is not all about hard work and positivity. He also showed that he is about skill as his three goals led Schalke to a 4-0 win over Hoffenheim to snap a horrendous skid.
Matthew Hoppe: raw # for Schalke in a 4-0 win over Hoffenheim— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) January 9, 2021
3 chances created
0 key passes
6/12 passing (50%)
7 duels won (8 lost)
5 aerials won (2 lost)
So how did Hoppe pull this off?
Two things stand out. For one, he showed that he is very crafty with his off-ball movement to get into passing lanes and score. While not fast, Hoppe knew where to find space and exploit it. Amine Harit assisted on all three goals and connected with Hoppe in his moves into space.
Second, when Hoppe received the ball in a dangerous area, he was able to finish in different ways. Hoffenheim goalkeeper Oliver Baumann was fooled each time because Hoppe was able to offer something different.
His first goal came from a through-ball from Harit that he moved in from the left side but still got between the central defenders and chipped with his first touch off his right foot.
Matthew Hoppe’s first professional goal! The American teenager gives Schalke a 1-0 lead on Hoffenheim! pic.twitter.com/9lJrfHxvDY— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) January 9, 2021
On the second goal, Hoffenheim’s defense opted to stop a counter by stepping up to press Harit. That opened up space and a passing lane which Harit exploited to again play Hoppe into another 1v1 with Baumann. Instead of chipping, Hoppe made a move around the keeper to his left. Then he had an easy left-footed finish.
On the third goal, following a bad Hoffenheim turnover, Hoppe moved up the middle towards the left but then cut right to get open for the through-ball past the defense. His change in movement created space as it crossed the central defenders up. The finish was a side-footed chip with his right foot.
Matthew Hoppe’s third goal of his hat trick! The American teen is gonna snap Schalke’s 30 game Bundesliga winless streak! pic.twitter.com/wUirzzfLtP— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) January 9, 2021
So, three different finishes from Hoppe with three different moves to get behind the central defense.
These goals will certainly leave Hoffenheim’s central defenders with a lot to think about in terms of the space they provided to Harit and Hoppe.
As for Hoppe, he is on top of the world and will a contract set to expire in months, he should have offers because these goals showed a lot of soccer intelligence and a wide variety of skills to finish off plays.
The California teen will also enter the U.S. striker pool if he continues to play. He is already outscoring Josh Sargent on a worse team. When you combine Hoppe and Sargent with existing options like Atidore and Zardes along with others who have stepped up in 2020 – Jeremy Ebobisse, Daryl Dike, Ayo Akinola, Haji Wright, and others at even younger levels. The position is not nearly as bleak as it used to be.