In just his fifth Bundesliga appearance, 19-year-old California native Matthew Hoppe has become the first American to score a hat trick in Germany's top flight. The forward accomplished that in FC Schalke 04's 4-0 win Saturday over TSG 1899 Hoffenheim before being subbed off in the 88th minute.
Hoppe's day was made even more remarkable when considering the Bundesliga has been home to US men’s national team players like Christian Pulisic and Giovanni Reyna in recent years. Historically speaking, Eric Wynalda, Landon Donovan and Clint Mathis are among the ex-USMNT forwards to feature in the Bundesliga.
Hoppe gave Schalke a 3-0 lead in the 63rd minute, poking past goalkeeper Oliver Baumann with the outside of his right foot. It emphatically capped his longest appearance of the year, plus gave Schalke their first win of the 2020-21 season. Previously winless in 30 games, they find themselves in a relegation battle.
The teenage forward also scored in the 42nd and 57th minutes, with his opener arriving via a deft chip over the goalkeeper.
Before heading to the Bundesliga, Hoppe played for the Barca Academy in Arizona, the same program that helped develop LAFC midfielder Bryce Duke, New York Red Bulls midfielder Caden Clark and LA Galaxy right back Julian Araujo.
Hoppe made his first-team debut just over two months ago, going 81 minutes in a defeat against Borussia Monchengladbach in November 2019.
Schalke has become a proving ground for Americans over the years, with USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie currently loaned from there to Serie A powerhouse club Juventus. Jermaine Jones, who memorably helped power the New England Revolution to a MLS Cup 2014 berth, also played for the Bundesliga club. They used to be managed by American coach David Wagner, too, and Thomas Dooley played there in the 1990s.