Matthew Hoppe has waited for his chance to crack the Schalke first team and the Los Angeles native got his opportunity on Saturday, becoming the latest American to feature in the European league.
Hoppe got the start for Schalke in league play, playing 81 minutes in a 4-1 road defeat to in-form Borussia Monchengladbach. Although the result didn’t go the way the 19-year-old would’ve hoped for his senior debut, he savored the opportunity to be out there for the first team in competitive action for Schalke.
“I was obviously surprised but I was ready,” Hoppe told Bundesliga.com post match. “I’ve dreamed of this moment and by the grace of God I was given my chance.”
“The most challenging part was trying to hold the ball up for the first time in the Bundesliga. We have to be organized at the back, have fewer errors and take our chances going forward.”
Hoppe has mainly played with Schalke II over the past two seasons, but has worked his way up the depth chart in 2020. In addition to the club’s struggles at the tail end of last season and the early stages of the new campaign, Hoppe was rewarded this week by being included in first team training.
He scored four goals and added two assists in 32 combined appearances for Schalke’s U-19 and U-23 teams before getting promoted to the first team. With Manuel Baum without the services of Vedad Ibisevic, Goncalo Paciencia, Rabbi Matondo, Amine Harit and Ahmed Kutucu, Hoppe was given his first chance on Saturday and showed some promising signs against seventh place Gladbach.
The forward logged just under seven miles in his performance, while also recording two efforts on goal. The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team prospect may receive his next opportunity on December 6th with Schalke traveling to Bayer Leverkusen.