U.S. men’s national team head coach Gregg Berhalter praised his young squad after a valiant 1-0 triumph over Jamaica in the 2021 Gold Cup quarter-finals.
FC Schalke 04 forward Matthew Hoppe scored the only game of the night in the 83rd minute after a swift pass from veteran USMNT player Sebastian Lletget led him into the box. Hoppe recorded his third appearance for the national team against Jamaica after debuting with the senior squad only 10 days prior.
Berhalter counted on the grit and determination of his young squad to navigate through the tournament and reach the finals. The inexperienced bunch performed well during the early 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 type of game it was going to be, so the guys were prepared from that standpoint. But when you actually get in the game, it’s a different deal. I thought our guys competed unbelievably,” Berhalter said following the win.
“The guys were resilient. They just kept going. These are young players, our whole player pool is young, and we’re trying to get them experience. And games like Sunday’s are what does it.”
Berhalter spoke particularly about Hoppe’s improvement and potential moving forward with the USMNT.
"I think the way he was able to get chances, he had a couple of clear looks at goal, and that's due to his movement in the box," Berhalter said of Hoppe.
"He was grinding. When a guy puts that type of effort in and hangs in there and keeps going, we want to stick with him because we thought he was doing a good job and because he's goal-dangerous.”
The young forward joined Schalke in 2019 and made his debut with the team in January 2021 before going on to record 22 appearances for them. He became the first ever American to score a hat-trick in the Bundesliga, inspiring the German side to a 4-0 victory over Hoffenheim to end the team’s 30-game winless streak.