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Full of Hoppe: The latest USA youngster to breakout in the Bundesliga - scout report tactics

Full of Hoppe: The latest USA youngster to breakout in the Bundesliga

Matthew Hoppe has certainly been a bright light in recent weeks, in what has otherwise been a disastrous season for Schalke. Hoppe’s rise has been rapid, moving from the U19’s to the U23’s, and now the first-team since the beginning of the season. He joins the likes of Josh Sargent at Werder Bremen, Gio Reyna at Borussia Dortmund, and Chris Richards at Bayern Munich in terms of young Americans plying their trade in Germany’s top league.

Hoppe scored a hat-trick in the 4-0 win over Hoffenheim, and since then scored in the next two games, in a 3-1- loss to Eintracht Frankfurt, and a 2-1 loss to Koln. We need to tread carefully when assessing Hoppe’s talent. He has done wonderfully well in the seven games he has played so far for Schalke, but it is a small sample size, and until we can see these kinds of performances over a longer period of time, we must take everything with a pinch of salt. Nevertheless, his movement in the final third, calmness in front of goal, suitability to Schalke’s tactics, and all round reading of the game has been very impressive for such an inexperienced striker. This tactical analysis and scout report will look at the American’s performances so far, and highlight some of the qualities that have seen him hit the ground running in his Bundesliga career.

Statistics

Before giving an analysis of his in-game performances, it is useful for us to look at his statistics from the Bundesliga this season to give us an idea of where he measures with other forwards, and the type of player he is.

To provide context to his stats, we have compared him with other U21 forwards in Europe’s top five leagues, who have played at least 400 minutes so far this season.

Firstly if we look at xG and xA per 90, we can see that Hoppe is a finisher, not a creator. He is under the average for these players for expected assists per 90, but his expected goals are above the average, comfortably enough.

Full of Hoppe: The latest USA youngster to breakout in the Bundesliga - scout report tactics
In reality, Hoppe hasn’t registered an assist yet, which isn’t a surprise, but we can see that he has well over-performed his xG per 90, with only Ibrahima Niane and Erling Haaland registering a higher goals per 90 value. Both Niane and Haaland have outperformed their xG themselves, and whilst Haaland has proven himself to be an elite finisher, it remains to be seen whether Niane and Hoppe can continue to do so over a longer period of time, or whether they revert closer to their xG.

Full of Hoppe: The latest USA youngster to breakout in the Bundesliga - scout report tactics

We can see what kind of forward Hoppe is by having a look at a few offensive statistics: dribbles per 90, offensive duels per 90, and touches in box per 90. The latter is shown by the size of the plot points.

We can see that Hoppe performs under the average for both dribbles and offensive duels, and yet is one of the best performers when it comes to touches in the box per 90. We will look at his in-game performances to see how this correlates.

Full of Hoppe: The latest USA youngster to breakout in the Bundesliga - scout report tactics

We can see what kind of forward Hoppe is by having a look at a few offensive statistics: dribbles per 90, offensive duels per 90, and touches in box per 90. The latter is shown by the size of the plot points.

We can see that Hoppe performs under the average for both dribbles and offensive duels, and yet is one of the best performers when it comes to touches in the box per 90. We will look at his in-game performances to see how this correlates.

Full of Hoppe: The latest USA youngster to breakout in the Bundesliga - scout report tactics

Final third movement

Hoppe has above average pace, and along with his height it makes him a handful for defences. This is even more the case when there is space in behind available for him to run into. Whenever out of possession, Hoppe moves laterally across the defence, waiting for the right moment to curve his run and look to receive the through pass in behind.

Full of Hoppe: The latest USA youngster to breakout in the Bundesliga - scout report tactics

Four of his five goals have come from this type of run, with all three of his goals in the hat trick a result of this movement.

Hoppe does look to play on the last man, looking to time his runs to be played in as he’s hitting top speed, whilst preferably the defenders are still on the turn.

His first goal against Hoffenheim came from him beating the back line in a foot race as he was slotted in behind.

Full of Hoppe: The latest USA youngster to breakout in the Bundesliga - scout report tactics

What was most impressive about this was Hoppe’s composure to lift the ball over the keeper with his weaker foot. To have the frame of mind to do this with an opportunity to score his first senior goal shows Hoppe’s confidence in his ability.

Full of Hoppe: The latest USA youngster to breakout in the Bundesliga - scout report tactics

The second goal in this game occurred this time with the centre-backs being caught flat and not on the turn, allowing Hoppe to beat them easily for pace when the ball was played in behind. He again showed his composure, this time rounding the goalkeeper.

Full of Hoppe: The latest USA youngster to breakout in the Bundesliga - scout report tactics

For his third goal Hoppe managed to find space in behind despite being positioned centrally and the attack coming directly in line with him. As such, there appeared to be little room for him to find space in behind.

Full of Hoppe: The latest USA youngster to breakout in the Bundesliga - scout report tactics

However, as the Hoffenheim centre-back stepped forward. Hoppe instinctively rotated his body position, and darted in behind. With less space in behind, this was all about the timing of his movement rather than the defence not being able to catch him in a foot race.

Full of Hoppe: The latest USA youngster to breakout in the Bundesliga - scout report tactics

Game-reading

His anticipation of where he can find space is outstanding. He gambles with his runs, hoping his teammates are bold enough to attempt the through pass. 

His goal against Frankfurt exemplified this as he looped around the back of his marker in a wide area, and fortunately this run was met with a lofted pass over the top.

Full of Hoppe: The latest USA youngster to breakout in the Bundesliga - scout report tactics

Hoppe was then able to drive inside, and his decision to take on the shot despite the tight angle and presence of the centre-back tracking back just goes to show the confidence this young man has right now, as well as finishing ability. It was also impressive to see him finish despite being bowled over by the defender, and would likely have won a penalty had this not gone in.

Full of Hoppe: The latest USA youngster to breakout in the Bundesliga - scout report tactics

Below is another example of him gambling, and it almost paying off in his debut against Borussia Monchengladbach. With the ball in the air and being met by the head of a Monchengladbach player, Hoppe decides against challenging for the aerial duel, but instead instinctively peels away and makes the run in behind the last defender. These gambles don’t always pay off (although in this example it was misttimed by the defender and the ball went in behind, rewarding his gamble), but we can get a feel for the type of striker Hippe is going to be in his career that he is looking to to take advantage of situations that are mere half-chances. Along with his terrific movement off the last man, Hoppe is going to be a dangerous forward who will catch defenders if they lose any concentration or play with too high of a line.

Full of Hoppe: The latest USA youngster to breakout in the Bundesliga - scout report tactics

A well rounded forward?

But is this all Hoppe is? Not necessarily. Hoppe plays with the youthful enthusiasm you would expect from a player in the infancy of his career. He runs endlessly and although he has a lean, almost wiry frame (which will undoubtedly fill out), he puts himself around and isn’t afraid of creating contact between himself and an opponent. 

He is definitely at his best when prowling along the last line of defence looking for that ball in behind, but he does a respectable job holding up possession and linking up with his teammates. Below, Schalke’s defence cleared the ball hopefully up field in a bid to clear pressure. Hoppe did exactly what was required in this instance, zipping across the pitch and managing to get to the clearance, before playing quickly inside to a supporting midfielder and turning the clearance into an attacking transition.

Full of Hoppe: The latest USA youngster to breakout in the Bundesliga - scout report tactics

He is comfortable enough playing with his back to goal and can hold the ball up, whilst holding off a defender with his body and playing quickly to feed teammates making runs off of him.

Full of Hoppe: The latest USA youngster to breakout in the Bundesliga - scout report tactics

Despite not being a dribbler, Hoppe has good feet, a sharp change of pace and a calmness in possession. Below he wins back the ball in a deep area against Schalke, and dribbles laterally across the pitch whilst under pressure. He delays the attack, allowing Schalke to effectively transition, before laying the ball off for his overlapping full-back.

Full of Hoppe: The latest USA youngster to breakout in the Bundesliga - scout report tactics

Conclusion

There isn’t a great deal we can say about Hoppe just yet, but we can certainly tell what kind of forward he is, and the type of player he has the potential to grow into. We can see he has some obvious tendencies, and is finding success in the way he plays already. 

There is a really interesting cohort of talent coming out of the United States at the moment and Hoope is the latest of these players to begin to make their mark in Europe. It will be fascinating to monitor his progress over the remainder of the season.