The US Men’s National Team had a rough start to the Gold Cup, but they were able to survive and advance in the tournament with a 2-1 victory over Jamaica. Hoppe was influential in the win and will be looking for more opportunities in the future.
Matthew Hoppe is a USMNT fan, and he is also the goalkeeper for the New York Red Bulls. He rose to the occasion when his team needed him in their match against Jamaica.
Matthew Hoppe got his head on a deflected cross and the United States had a 1-0 lead against Jamaica in the Gold Cup quarterfinals by the time his feet touched the ground. Hoppe’s last participation in the game came in the 83rd minute, completing his first breakout international performance.
Hoppe was a player few outside of the most passionate fans of the USMNT were aware of this time last year. And now, at the age of 20, he seems to be a player set for minutes in World Cup qualification.
Hoppe’s rise exemplifies the kind of opportunity that this Gold Cup, which is devoid of European players, was intended to provide: Allow players who aren’t part of Gregg Berhalter’s established core to earn their way into positions in the autumn.
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Hoppe had never played for a U.S. youth national team before making his Bundesliga debut for Schalke in November, and despite glimpses of brilliance (he became the first American to score a hat trick in the Bundesliga on Jan. 9), he remained a difficult player to assess.
Schalke spent the 2020-21 season in chaos, ending with just 15 points after selling Weston McKennie to Juventus, where he rapidly flourished. During the relegation parade, Hoppe scored six goals, but his team’s lack of cohesiveness proved personally limiting.
He was strong, confident on the ball, and clearly the most energetic American attacker against Jamaica, and it was obvious that Hoppe needed to stay on the field when Berhalter made offensive changes at the 60th minute.
Berhalter stated after the game, “I believe the way he was able to get opportunities, he got a couple of clean looks at goal and that’s due to his movement in the box.” “At the same time, he was grinding.” We want to stay with a player that puts in that kind of effort, hangs in there, and keeps going because we felt he was doing a good job and is goal dangerous.
“It was fantastic to watch him get a goal.”
Matthew Hoppe’s outstanding performance against Jamaica was precisely what Gregg Berhalter had hoped to see at this Gold Cup. Getty Images/Omar Vega
Berhalter’s offensive substitutions, Gyasi Zardes and Cristian Roldan for Daryl Dike and Paul Arriola, had an effect as well. Hoppe got his head on a cross from Roldan, and it took a little deflection off Zardes before Hoppe’s redirection. Prior to the arrival of the subs, neither Dike nor Arriola, the captain’s armband, presented much of a danger.
The victory sets up a thrilling semifinal encounter against Qatar, the Asian champions and 2022 World Cup hosts, on Thursday. The Qataris were invited to the competition as a guest country by CONCACAF and have scored 12 goals in four games, including a 3-2 victory against El Salvador on Saturday.
That high goal-scoring percentage will put the US defense to the test, since it has been almost perfect in four games. Of course, there have been lapses, but the USMNT has yet to concede a goal from open play, thanks to the efforts of New England Revolution goalie Matt Turner and a youthful backline.
“We believe they’re a strong squad, a great team to watch, an attacking team that’s extremely dangerous on the counter, and we think this game will really help us prepare,” Berhalter said.
“We discussed utilizing this tournament to prepare the players, and facing Qatar will accomplish just that. It’ll be a fantastic game against an opponent we’re not accustomed to.”
Due to the absence of Walker Zimmerman due to injury, Berhalter resorted to a four-man backline against Jamaica, partnering Miles Robinson and James Sands in the middle.
“Miles and James performed a fantastic job, in my opinion. I really believe that “Berhalter said. “Controlling the buildup while simultaneously fighting for control. I felt they played very well for young, inexperienced players in knockout rounds.”
The center-back pairing is mutually beneficial. Robinson is better at putting out flames and guarding in transition, while Sands has proven that his progressive passing is a big advantage from his position throughout the tournament. Sands has arguably done more to improve his pool position throughout the tournament, but it was Robinson who came up with the game-changing moves against Jamaica, and he will certainly be relied upon in similar circumstances against Qatar.
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