Matthew Hoppe Gets An Assist At Real Madrid, But He Won’t Want To Remember Anything Else

Real Madrid hosted Mallorca on Wednesday night, and it was a special (and extremely rare) occasion for American fans of LaLiga as USMNT striker Matthew Hoppe earned a start at the Santiago Bernabéu.

After making his club debut on Sunday — a 30-minute cameo in a scoreless draw with Villarreal — the 20-year-old Californian was given a chance to shine from the start, but his task was not an enviable one. With Real certain to dominate possession, Hoppe would be required to scrap and fight for every Mallorca clearance thumped toward Real’s half while getting continuously bodied by David Alaba and Éder Militão.

Welcome to LaLiga, young man.

Two minutes in, Hoppe actually won a free kick inside his own half while battling with Alaba. Unfortunately, it turned into a slow-burn disaster from there as Mallorca’s attempt to keep possession led to a heavy touch, a slip and Karim Benzema stealing in on goal. 

Hoppe’s next involvement was chasing the soul of the ball after an elegant drag-back from Eduardo Camavinga that drew applause from the Bernabéu.

On 24 minutes, Real Madrid made it 2-0 with a move that was started by Vinícius Júnior and finished by Marco Asensio.

After scoring five goals and providing two assists through the first five games of the season, Vinícius got another assist Wednesday and was again unplayable at times. He’s still applying the sauce, except now it’s even sharper and more confidently, but scarier still is that’s he’s developed a personality in the final third. He’s not largely keeping his head down and only lifting it to find Benzema; he suddenly looks more than capable of pulling all the strings for Real.

Directly after Asensio made it 2-0, 20-year-old South Korean Lee Kang-in took Hoppe’s layoff and pulled one back for Mallorca. Hoppe gets the assist!  

It took Real only four minutes to reestablish its two-goal advantage. Benzema provided the great layoff, but when you see the replay you realize just how great Asensio’s first touch is. With the ball behind him, the 25-year-old uses his heel to flick it forward and into stride and then finishes by driving the ball into the ground and bouncing it over the keeper. 

Asensio’s hat trick in the 55th minute was a more straightforward piece of brilliance: a curled drive from 22 yards out. Asensio didn’t celebrate any of his goals as a native of Palma who went through Mallorca’s youth system before spending two seasons with the senior team.  

Things then got out of control. Benzema got his second and Real’s fifth in the 78th after getting on the end of an Alaba ball with the nape of his neck. Isco made it 6-1 in the 84th after more good play from Vinícius.   

The win put Real at the top of the table with 16 points from six games, two ahead of Atlético. The gap between Real and Barcelona is already eight points.

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