Championship side Middlesbrough has loaned USMNT forward Matthew Hoppe to San Jose Earthquakes, with the deal set to expire next summer. San Jose possesses an option to make the move permanent for an undisclosed fee.
It seems a lifetime ago, but it’s only been a little over two years. Matthew Hoppe’s three-game stretch for Schalke from January 9th, 2021 to January 20th will live in American soccer lore for all eternity. A then 19-year-old Hoppe scored five goals, including a hat trick against Hoffenheim, propelling him into conversations as the next big American abroad. Hoppe would make 16 more appearances that season, earning a call-up to the USMNT. That summer, Hoppe played a role for his country as the U.S. defeated Mexico to earn their seventh Gold Cup, managing a goal and assist.
Unfortunately for Americans, and most of all for Hoppe himself, the trajectory never continued its ascent.
Hoppe left Schalke following the club’s relegation from the Bundesliga during his breakout campaign. Hoppe would sign for La Liga outfit Mallorca. His time in Spain would begin a tumultuous period for Hoppe as he would only make eight appearances all season. Cutting their losses, Mallorca shipped Hoppe to Middlesbrough for an equally disastrous time. The United States international would make almost as many appearances for Middlesbrough’s U-21 team (4) as he did for the first team (5). Once again in search of playing time, Hoppe spent the second half of last season on loan with Hibernian in Scotland, making 7 appearances with a goal and assist.
Struggling abroad often leads to one place for Americans. MLS. Hoppe had been reluctant to join the league, focusing on European opportunities. As many have learned, just because it’s Europe doesn’t mean it’s better. Failed fits at Mallorca, Middlesbrough, and Hibernian seem to have taught the 22-year-old that lesson.
Capable of playing across a front three, Hoppe could prove a shrewd move for San Jose, who are in need of another attacking threat. San Jose has been heavily reliant on Cristian Espinoza and Jeremy Ebobisse, the only two forwards to show any consistency this season.
If Hoppe can come in with a humble attitude and apply himself, then he has a real chance to resurrect his career.