Fall 2021 SS Magazine

Matthew Hoppe glorifying God as he makes mark with USMNT in Gold Cup

U.S. men’s national team striker Matthew Hoppe hadn’t scored in international competition — or a headed goal in his professional career — when he took the field for the United States’ Gold Cup quarterfinal match against Jamaica on Sunday night.

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That all changed when the 20-year-old got on the end of Cristian Roldan’s cross in the 83rd minute and netted the only goal of the game to secure a spot in the semifinals on Thursday.

The U.S. will face 2022 World Cup host Qatar in that semifinal match. The Asian nation was invited to play in this tournament as a guest “in keeping with a strategic partnership between CONCACAF and the Asian Football Confederation,” according to MLS. Kickoff from Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.

After his big goal that advanced the Americans on Sunday, Hoppe took to Twitter and gave thanks to God. “Great night,” he wrote. “Praise the Lord! Time to focus on Thursday!”

Hoppe was the most dangerous attacking threat for the U.S. throughout the match and drew praise from head coach Gregg Berhalter for his performance.

“The way he was able to get chances — he had a couple clear looks at goal and that’s due to his movement in the box and he was grinding,” Berhalter said after the match. “When a guy puts that type of effort in and hangs in there and keeps going, we wanted to stick with him because we thought he was doing a good job and because he’s goal dangerous.”

A native of Yorba Linda, California, Hoppe was committed to play for San Diego State until German club Schalke offered him a contract. He initially joined the club’s reserve side and made his Bundesliga debut on Nov. 28 against Borussia Mönchengladbach.

“I was obviously surprised but I was ready,” he said following his debut. “I’ve dreamed of this moment and by the grace of God I was given my chance.”

The Barcelona Residency Academy graduate made history just over a month later, becoming the first American to register a hat trick in the German top flight. Chelsea star Christian Pulisic and national team legend Clint Dempsey are the only other U.S. internationals to do so in one of Europe’s top five leagues.

Hoppe became a bright spot in what was an extremely frustrating season for Schalke, as he recorded six goals and an assist in 22 league appearances while making 15 starts. He also signed his first professional contract with the club in February, and it runs through the end of the 2022-23 season.

The spark he provided was not enough from preventing his team from being relegated, though. Whenever his time with the national team at the Gold Cup comes to an end, Hoppe will be headed back to Germany to help try to get Schalke back in the Bundesliga.

Through it all, he often references his faith on social media in both German and English.

The winner of the U.S.-Qatar game will face the winner of the second semifinal between Mexico and Canada on Sunday night at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Schalke’s league season began Friday with a 3-1 loss to Hamburger.

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