Chandler Hoffman swears he got a touch. Manager John
Hackworth is in his corner. All that’s left to see if the rookie can officially
celebrate his first MLS goal is, well, a little belief from MLS.
It was Hoffman’s disruptive presence in the box in the 34th
minute of the Union’s 3-1 loss to the Chicago Fire Sunday that ultimately led
to the host’s only score. Through some combination of a well-weighted cross to
the danger area by Freddy Adu, Hoffman’s head and the foot of Chicago defender
Jalil Anibaba, the ball ended up in the back of Sean Johnson’s cage.
Hoffman certainly has his theory.
“I thought I got a little flick on it,” he said. “It
definitely touched my head. I was going to celebrate like it was mine.”
The goal was originally credited to Adu, then changed to an
Either way, Hoffman continued a trend under Hackworth in
which the coach has been rewarded for his faith in young, speedy strikers.
First Jack McInerney, whose absence as the central striker was felt by the
Union Sunday. Then Antoine Hoppenot, whose introduction at halftime for Adu
didn’t result in a goal but gave the Union a more coherent and threatening
Hoffman, the 13th overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft
who has suffered through a broken big toe on his left foot that limited him to
80 minutes in three MLS matches, made a case to join that list.
“Chandler’s a guy who came in and obviously he has some big
shoes to fill with Jack Mac (out due to suspension), but he did a good job,”
Hackworth said. “… He put in a good effort tonight. He’s been out for a long
time. It’s a recurring theme: It’s a young team, young players, getting good
“It was good coming back from injury,” Hoffman said. “It
was great to see that Hack had confidence in me. I had a great week of
Hoffman, who counts the game-winner in a friendly against
German side Schalke FC in June among his pro highlights, had enough in the tank
to work 69 minutes Sunday. Being asked to lead the front line and taking on a
veteran defender like Arne Friedrich, who has 82 international caps for Germany
to his name, was no small challenge, but he did the job admirably.
“Maybe on a couple of the balls that were getting into me
in the box, (I was taking) a split-second too long,” Hoffman said. “I thought I
was making good runs to get into space. In the beginning of the second half, we
were creating havoc. It was just really unfortunate that we didn’t find the
goal to equalize and gave up the goal for 3-1.”
Whether Hoffman will unseat players like McInerney or
Lionard Pajoy for the role of center forward in the 4-3-3 formation Hackworth
prefers anytime soon is unlikely. But in the same way that Hoppenot has given
the team a shot in the arm lately, so too could Hoffman on a regular basis,
with the added advantage that at 6-foot, he presents a bit more of a threat in
the air than McInerney or Hoppenot.
Hoffman, though, isn’t getting ahead of himself.
“It was good to get 90 minutes last week and train well
this week,” he said. “I felt good tonight running around. I was hustling really
hard and trying to find ways to get us goals. I thought I scored the first one,
but we’ll see if they change that.”
EDITORIAL NOTE: This blog post was written by my Delco Times colleague, Matthew De George, a contributor on the Union beat. For his story, on Bakary Soumare's debut, click here. For my game story from Sunday's 3-1 loss, click here.
Labels: Antoine Hoppenot, Chandler Hoffman, Chicago Fire, Freddy Adu, Getty, Jack McInerney, John Hackworth, Matt De George