When Matthew Hoppe became the first American-born player ever to record a hat-trick in the German Bundesliga play this past weekend, many around the soccer world were surprised. In just his fifth game with Schalke 04’s first team, Hoppe exploded for three goals, his first in the professional ranks. His offensive outburst helped snap a 30-game winless streak for Schalke and made him the club’s leading scorer on the season, owning 25 percent of the team’s tallies.
Heading into the contest, Hoppe had just one goal in 16 appearances for Schalke II in the German fourth-tier before his promotion in November, and was scoreless in 214 minutes with the first-team. Last season with Schalke’s U-19 team, Hoppe had five goals in 20 appearances. So to say his world-class performance this past weekend was unexpected would be an understatement.
Except to those at Strikers FC, especially Technical Director Don Ebert.
“I had goosebumps watching the game,” Ebert said. “I was texting his father and I told him, ‘Don’t worry, the football world knows Matthew Hoppe today.’ It was fantastic to see a kid do that. He’ll remember that day for the rest of his life.”
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