CARSON, Calif. -- Chandler Hoffman has scored plenty of meaningful goals in his years kicking around a soccer ball, but his first in an LA Galaxy uniform meant something extra to the young forward.
Since being acquired from the Philadelphia Union for a conditional 2014 MLS SuperDraft pick on March 1, Hoffman has found himself on the fringes of the first team. Without a first team debut to date, Reserve League appearances become that much important for Hoffman.
In his third appearance with LA’s reserves, Hoffman finally found the back of the net in the 17th minute of LA’s 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Blues. Partnered alongside the speedy Gyasi Zardes, Hoffman was dangerous throughout as the pair terrorized the USL Pro defense.
The goal was classic Hoffman as the former UCLA hit man made a darting run sneaking behind the defense and easily tapped in a Hector Jimenez cross into the back of the net.
“It was the first goal in a Galaxy jersey and hopefully the first of many,” Hoffman told reporters. “I was making runs in behind [the defense] and Hector played a great ball and I just finished. [Gyasi] is ideal for me because he can get behind [the defense] and provide a lot of havoc for the defenders and I can sneak in and make runs into the box, which is my favorite thing to do for me to score goals.”
Hoffman’s goal wasn’t his only dangerous moment over his 90 minute period as he repeatedly tested the defense, even getting a chance at goal in the second half when the score was at 4-1, though he was unable to finish. Despite the Blues’ late push, which saw a 4-0 lead become a 4-3 final, Hoffman drew positive reviews for his performance, particularly after a difficult showing in LA’s last reserve defeat to Real Salt Lake.
“He’s intelligent. He makes smart little runs behind [the defense],” said Assistant coach and Reserve League head coach Curt Onalfo. “He scores a goal and that’s the job of a forward is to score goals and be menacing. He put in a good shift over 90 minutes.”
Next week Hoffman will return to PPL Park where the 13th overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft made just seven appearances for the Union. There will be plenty of differences: walking into a different locker room, catching up with former teammate and college friend Amobi Okugo in a different uniform, but the youngster is undoubtedly looking forward to returning to the stadium where he spent his first year in MLS.
“I spent my first year there so it’ll be good to be back in that stadium, but obviously, we’ll want to get three points and it’ll be business once we step in there,” said Hoffman. “I had a great time there and the coaching staff was fabulous to me, but obviously, I want to show that I deserved to be on the field more than I was and that’s any player’s goal. To prove that they belong and that they deserve to be a 90 minute player.”
His first goal in an LA uniform in the books, Hoffman must now look to build on his performance on the training field. Ever the clever forward, the 22-year-old Hoffman sees an opportunity to force his way into the conversation for first team minutes in the coming weeks—if he can improve his game.
“We’ve got a lot of games coming up. We’ve got a big road trip then with Jose [Villarreal] being gone [for the U.S. U-20’s], Jack [McBean] being injured and Robbie [Keane] possibly being gone for World Cup Qualifiers, there’s going to be opportunities and I just need to step up and be ready for them,” Hoffman said. “I need to get a little bit better holding the ball up and using my body a little bit better and just being super sharp in front of goal.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com