US men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter praised his young squad after a brave 1-0 triumph over Jamaica in the 2021 Gold Cup quarterfinals.
FC Schalke 04 forward Matthew Hoppe made the only match of the evening in the 83rd minute after a quick pass from veteran USMNT player Sebastian Lletget led him into the box. Hoppe recorded his third appearance for the national team against Jamaica after making his debut with the senior group just 10 days before.
Berhalter counted on the gravel and determination of his young squad to navigate through the tournament and reach the final. The inexperienced team performed well during the first weeks of the tournament to emerge as group leaders before reaching their first real challenge against Jamaica, a team ranked third in the region.
“We talked about what kind of game it would be, so the guys were prepared from that point of view. But when you actually get into the game, it’s a different deal. I thought our guys competed unbelievably, Berhalter said after the victory.
? “I’m just happy to be able to contribute to the team.” @ MatthewHoppe9 on making his first international goal to drive ?? in the # GoldCup21 Semifinals. pic.twitter.com/nEqWmxQn70
– US Soccer MNT (@USMNT) July 26, 2021
“The guys were resilient. They just kept going. These are young players, the whole pool of players is young and we try to make them experience. And games like Sunday are what make it. ”
Berhalter spoke specifically about Hope’s improvement and potential to move forward with USMNT.
“I think how he managed to get chances, he had a couple of clear glances towards the goal, and that was due to his movement in the box,” Berhalter said of Hoppe.
“He grinds. When a guy puts in that kind of effort and hangs in there and keeps going, we want to hold on to him because we thought he did a good job and because he was dangerous.”
The young forward joined Schalke in 2019 and made his debut with the team in January 2021 before recording 22 matches for them. He became the first American ever to score a hat-trick in the Bundesliga, which inspired the German side to a 4-0 victory over Hoffenheim to end the team’s 30 players without a win.