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Matthew Hoppe delivers sharp USMNT debut in Gold Cup romp

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Matthew Hoppe had not played a competitive match in almost two months, but you would not have known it watching him buzz around the field in his U.S. men’s national team debut on Thursday.

The Schalke forward earned the start for Gregg Berhalter’s side against Martinique and made full use of the platform, setting up his team’s first goal and showing off excellent touch, mobility and creativity in the 6-1 win over Martinique.

“For Matthew, we had him slated as a winger and today he played as an attacking mid, in the pocket sometimes, sometimes running behind, then going high,” Berhalter said. “And it’s not easy to take in all that information and perform as well as he did.

“He also showed quality, the pass he gave to Daryl is a high-level pass,” Berhalter said. “I think he did well, and we’re also bearing in mind that he is in preseason, hasn’t played a competitive game. He’s been at home training, and this is the output you get, so overall pleased with his performance.”

Hoppe played 58 minutes against Martinique, completing 17 of 20 passes, delivering two key passes, including his assist on Daryl Dike’s first goal. The 20-year-old also contributed defensively, compiling five recoveries and winning five duels.

Hoppe’s performance was made even more impressive by the fact he was one of just two European-based players in the starting lineup for the USMNT on Thursday, with Shaq Moore being the other. While his MLS-based teammates came into the Gold Cup in midseason form from a fitness standpoint, Hoppe arrived in camp after his vacation, and after being out of action since taking part in the USMNT’s training camp in Switzerland back in May, prior to the Concacaf Nations League.

Though he wasn’t selected for the Nations League, Hoppe jumped at the chance to be part of the Gold Cup team, even though it would mean missing the start of preseason with Schalke.

“I wanted to make my debut with the national team, I wanted to show the country and the world what I can do on an international level,” Hoppe said after Thursday’s match. “So that’s why I decided it’d be best for me to stay with the national team right now.”

Hoppe finds himself in a crowded field of young strikers in the USMNT player pool, but the Gold Cup has presented him with an opportunity to impress Berhalter, even if his minutes might have to come operating either as a wide forward or second forward.

If his national team debut is any indication, Hoppe is ready to take full advantage.

Comments

  1. Hoppe could very well find a fit when teams stay compact and defend with ten. He is calm on the ball and can create space with the dribble. Hoppe can pick out an accurate pass around the 18. Yet he does not show much speed but dictates pace with ball control around the 18. In the run of play with the first team forwards can he keep up and make them better?

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  2. To repeat points I made before, it’s hard to make judgments when the opposition is weak as the first two US opponents have been. Nevertheless, Hoppe was better than many expected. He has certainly merited further opportunities, especially against better opposition.

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  3. it clicked for me last night that yeuill is the one who drags the pace down to snail buildup. it’s like mastro’s walking pace passing but without the orthopedic activities other way. you put someone else out there and magically tempo appears.

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  4. i think hoppe is really a winger, and could be a useful one. most of his schalke goals, if you go back and find them, are him being played a diagonal ball in behind the offsides line, leading his run. they’re not target player back to goal and turn. and then from yesterday dude can obviously hit an accurate cross with some mustard on it. [fwiw i think a similar argument is true of sargent. he’s slower and more technical but he can put a cross where he means it. two places to try him, not one. we tend to pigeonhole.]

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    • Hoppe is one of 2 players (Nico), who have more skills than a CF. I watched a small sample of matches & highlights of both players, (more Nico’s). Most of the moves, I noticed were from the outside in, and not centrally. Taking defenders on 1v1. Receiving passes out wide then cutting/slashing with the ball inside. Setting up other players with crosses and weighted thru balls is in the toolbox of both Nico & Hoppe. Setting up teammates isn’t a CF job. CFs holdup the ball, drop it off, than run to the box. I’m not saying either can’t play CF, but coaches limit what they are capable of by playing them as point men leading the attack.

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  5. You have to say his inclusion and Dike’s performance obviously lit a fire in Zardes. The competition is good. I am not sold that Berhalter will always reward performance. I sense there is some Bob Bradley and playing favorites in him.

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    • dude his whole first game lineup was rewarding pecking order and the outcome disparity suggests he’s clueless on selection. canada played the two teams to the same exact scores. we beat one worse than canada — with kids — and barely won against haiti — with favorites. you couldn’t underline more clearly the effect of his poor selections. that was his bench yesterday. and there are people he cut or couldn’t secure better than this. we should be destroying gold cup.

      fwiw if you noticed last night it was the starters 4-0 and the subs 2-1. acosta comes in and gives up the PK. yeuill grinds the offense to a halt. etc. etc. coach is clueless.

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      • Starters played 60 minutes together scored 4g or a goal every 15 minutes, subs scored 2g in 30 minutes, which checks math yes a goal every 15 minutes. Acosta is of course responsible for the penalty but playing out of position because the #1 RB is hurt the #2 was gassed and the emergency RWB Arriola is also hurt so I’m not as concerned.

  6. Hoppe was the best player on the pitch. He had himself open several times but the lack of vision meant the pass never came.

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  7. Like I said, I wanna see that against somebody good before I’m totally sold. But the kid showed some serious stuff and he looked like an upgrade on Josh Sargent to me…let’s see if that’s For Real, but he definitely LOOKED Legit and a genuine find, and he showed why he was bagging hat tricks in the Bundesliga, for sure. Not sure if he should stick with Schalke and play a ton in the B2 or get sold on to somebody in the B1…whatever, the dude definitely looked like a legit Bundesliga striker. Let’s see if he still looks like a legit Bundesliga striker against Canada and Mexico.
    Was maybe even more excited about the fact that he seemed to pair very well with Dike; they definitely weren’t taking up the same space on the field at all.

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    • fair enough but this should always be true of NT players. perform once, ok, that’s your ticket in. perform again next week. and next. do it often enough and you’re a regular. half my beef with GB is performance doesn’t seem to matter if he thinks you in theory should work. for all your criticism, how often have roldan, yeuill, etc. ever looked good in any game? go after them first. hoppe should be on to the “second round” with the other “first round performers” where we find out which of the people who played well last week can do it again on purpose. that’s actually, to me, a blessing as opposed to a worry. ok, i’ve rounded up 25 guys who’ve played actual good games for us. now which ones can do it again. we ran the team like that — as i have suggested and you could be read as saying — this would vastly improve. it would be a team of people who in fact show up and get it done. there is a long history of wondos and twellmans who looked good on paper and never translated.

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      • I was actually surprised at Roldan; he looked pretty durn good yesterday. Williamson looked good. Zimmerman looked pretty solid.

        The guys who just jumped out at me though were Dike, Hoppe, Sands, and Busio. Busio. Oh My. That kid’s got more than a little Pirlo in him, and if I’m Tyler Adams, I’m genuinely nervous…which is good. The kid is just so incredibly calm, bossed the whole game, and his decision-making and slickness and calmness and poise just seemed…contagious. When you’ve got a 6 who can get out of pressure and always picks out the right pass it just seems to make everything run right and Busio’s got that. Kid is just an amazing soccer player with one of the highest soccer IQ’s I’ve ever seen on an American player, certainly a young American player. Italy, I suspect, will suit him amazingly well. He offers us something we don’t presently have – that poise, grace, vision.

      • what probably gets busio on the team is the sheer havoc and goals we’re getting off of rebounded shots keepers can’t stop. maybe him and dest can hit those shots. holmes who’s not in the selection. it’s a different feature and we need some tactical variety around.

    • Tyler Adams isn’t worried about Busio. I love Busio, I watch all the SKC matches just for him but he’s no where near a stage to worry Adams at this point. He was constantly just pushed off the ball by Martinique. I hope we get to play Mexico because I think him playing against Herrera and Edson Alvarez will show he’s got some growing to do. I think Williamson is probably a little ahead of him today although Busio has a much higher ceiling.

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      • Yeah, you can definitely see Busio can use some lead in his butt. But man. That vision. That poise. That calmness. And I don’t think the kid even has to shave yet. I remember every time I saw Pirlo I sort of had this mental image of him playing with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth and that’s sort of what I see with Busio over the long term, guy who just makes the game easier than anybody else. Like I said, stick him in Italy for a couple of years, let him marinate…he’ll offer us something different, I think. Kid’s got something special. Really like Williamson too, though. Actually was really excited about Sands and Hoppe as well. We had some shiny new players – or at least new to ME, anyhow – arrive for the Nats yesterday. Got me all excited-like. And I’ll even given Roldan his due, he actually looks like he’s progressed a good bit over the last year and a half. My Seattle friends were saying he’s better…and I’ll admit it, he is. Not a world-beater or anything, but he looked like a half-decent soccer player and that surprised me because I was anything but high on the Roldans before last night.

      • Funny how people watch the same game and come away with such drastically different opinions. Agree with your takes on Williamson and Busio. Martinique looked tired and slow at the 30 second mark so hard to know how the players that looked good will look against better competition. I think what is probably more telling is the players that didnt look particular good.

      • there’s a thing called a bench. everything is not noob vs best starters. i can sub people in. all he has to do is be better than yeuill or acosta.

    • Busio actually has a beard although he’s got it trimmed pretty close right now, last season it was much thicker. Lol.

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  8. The performances of Busio, Williamson, Roldan and Bello were only ok given the level of competition. Busio’s deliveries on set pieces left a lot to be desired, tbh, and there were times when the mid-field were getting outplayed. That really shouldn’t happen at this level.

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    • When I was playing as an amateur many years ago I was the one always taking the free kicks. I always did better than Busio did last night. The ball isn’t moving, so there’s no excuse for not hitting a good ball with accuracy.

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  9. Really promising showing. I think there are a handful of players from this group who are making their case to be in the running for roster spots during qualifiers.

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  10. Yeah I was impressed with Hoppe. I didn’t think he was very sharp in front of goal, had several times he received in the box and lost it. But he was very industrious in midfield, creating attacking chances. The one sequence when he dribbled away from multiple defenders, megging the one was so nice. The commentators seemed to think that was a bit of luck but I didn’t think so when I was watching real time. The ball in for Dike’s first was excellent. If he is this versatile, then he might well push for a spot in the top 23.

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  11. I thought Hoppe looked very good and surprisingly sharp, given where he is in his offseason, and as noted in the article; also was impressed with Dike (obviously, two goals) and Sands in the back, who as Holden said during the broadcast “did not put a foot wrong.”

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