Matthew Hoppe's hot streak has been rewarded with a new contract.
The 19-year-old U.S. forward signed his first pro deal with Schalke on Monday, the culmination of a run of form that's included a run of five goals in a three-game span. The club announced the deal, which runs through the 2022-23 season.
“Matthew Hoppe has taken his chance and shown that he has the potential to permanently establish himself in the Bundesliga,” Jochen Schneider, Schalke's head of sport and communication, said in a statement. “His development once again highlights the great work done by our academy and shows that FC Schalke 04 is the right place for young players to thrive.”
Hoppe announced his arrival with a hat trick against Hoffenheim on Jan. 9, which helped the club end a 30-game winless run in the Bundesliga. In doing so, he became the first American to ever score a hat trick in the German top flight. He followed that with goals against Eintracht Frankfurt and Koln and has become a regular starter for manager Christian Gross. He initially signed with Schalke over attending college at San Diego State University and came through Barcelona's U.S. academy.
“The last few weeks have been like a dream," Hoppe said in a statement. "I am extremely thankful to everyone at Schalke for giving me this chance. Now I want to play my part in us being successful again.”
Despite Hoppe's run of form, Schalke sits last in the Bundesliga with just eight points from 19 matches. It's nine points away from safety, though it did just accrue one with a 1-1 draw against Werder Bremen on Saturday. In that match, Hoppe and U.S. forward Josh Sargent both started.
The difference between the two is that Sargent has been capped multiple times by the U.S., while Hoppe has never represented his country on any level. That could change, according to recent comments made by U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter.
"For him, I think it's just the beginning," Berhalter said. Now, it's about just continuing to perform. It's not about one performance, it's about the next performance and the next performance and the next performance. And I think he's got a good mindset and he's ready to do that.
"If Matthew continues to score regularly, he will quickly make the leap to the senior team. He has to keep up his form and earn a regular starting place in the Bundesliga. Then he will certainly get a chance."