The Scottish Premiership has served a key purpose in the development of several young American players and Matthew Hoppe is fighting to become the latest to spark his club career following a spell in Scotland.
Hoppe joined Hibernian on loan this week for the remainder of the league season, trying to earn consistent minutes for the top-flight club and get his career back on track. The U.S. men’s national team forward is just over two years removed from making his first-team Bundesliga debut with Schalke, where he finished his first European season with six goals and one assist for the Gelsenkirchen-based club.
Hoppe will now prepare for the fourth stop of his club career, and already has high expectations for himself in Edinburgh.
“It’s important for every young player to get minutes,” said Hoppe in a club interview. “I’m hoping to get that chance here because I know I can take it.
“I have some good memories in Germany and in the Bundesliga; it was a special time in my life,” he added. “I showed that if I’m given a chance, then I will do well, but I’ve got to keep working hard, keep doing what I’m doing, stay consistent and then good things will happen.”
Hoppe quickly arrived in Edinburgh after making two appearances for the USMNT during its pair of January friendlies, a 2-1 loss to Serbia and a 0-0 draw with Colombia. The 21-year-old had made only six appearances for English Football League Championship side Middlesbrough this season, mainly featuring as a late substitute in Michael Carrick’s squad.
Hoppe’s abilities were on display however with Middlesbrough’s Under-21 team where he scored five goals in five appearances, including braces against both Stoke City and Sunderland. After a short trip back to his native California in January, Hoppe is pleased for the next chapter of his club career.
“It was a crazy week,” Hoppe said. “I went back to L.A., which was nice because it’s near where I’m from, and then it’s always special to join up with the National Team and to see the guys.
“Everything then worked out perfectly to come here,” he added. “I’m happy to be here and be with the team. I have big goals here and hope to achieve them.”
Hoppe can be used in a number of different ways by Hibernian manager Lee Johnson, featuring as a center forward or as a winger. Kevin Nisbet has led the Hibs attack for majority of the season, contributing eight goals to date, while Martin Boyle’s injury could open up an immediate role for Hoppe to play.
Hibernian will have hopes of finishing the season as high as third place, sitting only eight points back of local rivals Hearts with nine matches to go before the Championship round begins. Hoppe’s versatility could play a crucial role in the number of minutes he receives this winter/spring, and the American will be ready for whatever comes his way in the next few months.
“I want to help the team to be successful and to do that by scoring a lot of goals,” Hoppe said. “I’m very dynamic. I have a big size, so if the team needs to me then I’ll hold the play up.
“I can play in different ways, but my main strength is stretching the backline, making things difficult for the opposition, and creating opportunities for my teammates and I as well,” he added.”
Hibernian faces St. Mirren on Saturday before hosting St. Johnstone on Feb. 18.
to reword my comment on the other article, i think his ascent at schalke was rushed and his streak of form might have been a fluke. he was a decent U19 but a fairly unproductive schalke reserve teamer who got raced up to the senior team in extremis when they were having money and relegation worries. he then went on his B.1 streak which was 5 goals in 3 consecutive games. back completely cold again, but a streak like that people talk about him like a b.1 god. then struggled to see the field for mallorca first team. i’d be curious if he played any reserve ball there. comes to boro, maybe 60′ senior ball. he bounces between dressing for the first and reserve teams but has 5 goals in his last 4 reserve appearances. another streak.
what this comes across to me is a very streaky player, who had never even really established himself as a reserve on his way up before being catapulted too early to senior ball. fluke streak he couldn’t repeat. overrated. probably good that he shifted to boro and got dumped on a reserve squad.
i am not sure what to make of his progress. he had the reserve output this time at boro. but they didn’t play him much first team. when he played US ball he looked awful. which contradicts the reserve performance.
bears reminding he’s on loan. regardless if he actually needs development, i am sure boro jettisoned him because they didn’t get a loan player to play him in reserves and bring him along slow. similarly IMO SPL teams are cheap and looking for first team players. he has 4 months on loan there. it is not a permanent move. it will be a more friendly (easier) level but also SPL ball to me is more rough and tumble. but it’s not reserve ball. again, they won’t be bringing him in to work in slowly. he’s there to put up or shut up in 4 months. based on how weah was treated at celtic, even if he plays well off the bench he may not get bought (my cheapness concern).
i think this will be an opportunity to fight for playing time but he looked crap for the US and will need to flip the switch. he remains under deal at mallorca through 2025, this is a half season loan, and if hibernian isn’t enthused and buys him, he’s in loan hell through close to the next world cup.
i wish him well because i think he showed some raw promise in the gold cup but even there his raw dribbling looked undisciplined and like he needed some work, and i think he needs sandpaper but will be loaned to teams looking for first team work. i definitely think in the bigger picture the 5 B.1 goals in 3 games look a bit of a mirage.