Berlin, Jan 14, 2021 (AFP) - Following Matthew Hoppe's "fairytale" hat-trick for Schalke last weekend, US-based former Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann says the Bundesliga is the "place to be" for young American talent.
Hoppe, 19, netted a hat-trick on only his fifth Bundesliga appearance in Schalke's 4-0 drubbing of Hoffenheim, which ended the Royal Blues' miserable run of 30 league games without a win.
The South Californian became the first American to score a Bundesliga hat-trick.
"It's a fairytale story," Klinsmann told ESPN.
"It's incredible and should make the kid super proud and the youth system in America super proud."
However, Hoppe is on a well-worn path of US talent in Germany's top flight.
"Every club in the Bundesliga wants to find their own 'Captain America'," ESPN commented last year.
16 of the 18 Bundesliga clubs have at least one US import on their books.
Hoppe's US compatriots Giovanni Reyna, 18, is a Dortmund regular, Chris Richards, 20, is at Bayern Munich, Tyler Adams, 21, plays for RB Leipzig and Bremen has Josh Sargent, 20 - to name just a few.
The Bundesliga is an attractive proposition for US talent, says Klinsmann.
"It's not complicated and the coaches are straightforward," said the former Tottenham striker, whose last brief coaching job at Hertha Berlin ended abruptly when he walked out in early 2020.
"If a youngster realises that it's all about performance and that he will get the chance, the Bundesliga is the place to be."
Hoppe was offered a trial with Schalke on the back of his performances at the Barcelona Residency Academy USA in Arizona.
The teenager echoes Klinsmann, who lives in the States.
"You have to sacrifice a lot to play here (in Germany)," Hoppe said.
"I learned a lot here, improved my technique, tactical skills, mental strength and physique - it was a no-brainer to come to Schalke."
He hopes his breakthrough with Schalke will encourage other talented Americans to head to Germany.
"There are plenty of talented players in the US. They just have to risk the jump to Europe," he said.
The first US trailblazer was Andy Mate, who played six games for Hamburg in 1964/65, but the Bundesliga's boom of Americans only took off in recent years, partly driven by former Germany manager Klinsmann, who managed the US men's team for five years until 2016.
There is also the 'Pulisic factor' - with every young soccer player in America dreaming of following the path of Christian Pulisic.
Pulisic moved from Pennsylvania to Dortmund on a free transfer in 2016, then joined Chelsea in a high-profile transfer three years later.
The "player pipeline to Europe", as Klinsmann describes it, is strengthened by the increased importance Bundesliga clubs put on the US market.
European champions Bayern, for example, has a partnership with FC Dallas, who regularly send over players to train in Munich.
Many hope to follow in the footsteps of Chris Richards, the 20-year-old from Alabama, who has already played Champions League football for Bayern after travelling over from Dallas in 2018.