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Season Review: Chandler Hoffman

Photo: Earl Gardner

Editor’s note: At the end of the first two Philadelphia Union seasons, we posted a series of end of the season reviews of every Union player. Over the next several weeks, PSP continues with a review of the 2012 season.

It isn’t everyday that one of the NCAA’s top scorers falls into your team’s lap at Major League Soccer’s SuperDraft. That’s exactly what happened in January when UCLA forward Chandler Hoffman slid down the draft board. In helping to lead the Bruins to the NCAA College Cup Final Four, the junior from Birmingham, Alabama tallied 18 goals and six assists to earn a Generation adidas contract with MLS. In the run up to the draft, Hoffman was described as a clinical finisher, called a goal scoring machine, and was compared to Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. Though forward was not a pressing need for the Union (defensive help was the Union’s pre-draft priority) the technical staff  jumped at the chance to select the Alabama native with the 13th pick in the SuperDraft.

Chandler Hoffman’s 2012 season was a roller coaster that saw him score a match winning goal against one of Europe’s great clubs, set a PPL Park record, bounce back from a painful big toe fracture and all the while struggle to get important minutes with the first team.

High Point

No one was more in the zone for the Union Reserves dismantling of the D.C. United Reserves on October 9 than Hoffman. In setting a PPL Park record with four goals in a match, Hoffman solidified his credentials as a goal scoring force for the Union. With excellent service from the midfield tandem of Roger Torres and Zach Pfeffer, Hoffman was sitting on a brace when Josue Martinez was felled in the box. Hoffman grabbed the ball and powered his penalty shot past a helpless Joe Willis. In stoppage time, Hoffman punctuated his impressive outing with his fourth goal on the day.

A match winner versus FC Schalke o4 must be mentioned as well because it demonstrated the former UCLA forward’s poise in the opponent’s penalty area. In the dying minutes of the sparsely attended friendly, Hoffman collected a low cross from fellow 2012 SuperDraft pick Ray Gaddis, turned and fired his shot into the back of the net to earn his first professional goal.

Low Point 

2012 proved to be a frustrating campaign for the Union’s 2012 first rounder. Hoffman entered the 2012 season as one of seven forwards on a team that had just shipped out it’s all-time leading goal scorer. With Lionard Pajoy and Jack McInerney being the preferred forwards at various points throughout the campaign, Hoffman had to make do with playing time for the Union Reserves and in friendly matches. The Alabama native did appear in seven matches for the Union, earning his first career MLS start versus Vancouver in March (Nowak deployed Hoffman out of position).

Chandler’s rookie campaign was also hampered by a broken big toe that occurred in late June. Out of action for almost two months, Hoffman was unable to contribute during the busiest part of the Union’s 2012 schedule.


Chandler Hoffman scores goals. He’s a natural finisher with good size and poise in the penalty area. Following his four goal outburst versus D.C. United, Union assistant coach Brendan Burke commented, “Chandler has a one track mind. He just wants to score goals. That’s what you want out of a center forward.” When assessing Hoffman’s strengths Burke shared, “His movement in and around the box is very sharp and he typically does well when he finds himself on the ball in front of goal.”


MLS is a physical league, and the league’s top forwards need to learn how to deal with the imposing defenders that patrol the back line for many of the clubs in the league. Burke commented, “He needs to improve his physical strength to meet the demands of the league next year.”


The big question facing Chandler Hoffman in 2013 is whether he will be given the opportunity to show off his impressive skill set with the Union first team with greater frequency than in 2012. The Generation adidas tag may be a hindrance in securing more time with the first team. In the past the Union have traditionally been resistant to play their GA players (see Amobi Okugo, Jack McInerney and Danny Mwanga) but under Hackworth, those young players have seen a considerable increase in playing time. Additionally, Hoffman is one of five forwards on the roster, and will have to battle for playing time. Coach Burke is upbeat on Hoffman’s prospects stating, “I see him pushing for more consistent minutes in the first team next year.”

With the Union actively searching for help in the scoring department, Hoffman’s time on the game day roster may again be limited in 2013. Perhaps instead of John Hackworth’s high profile globetrotting to find goal scoring help the team should consider turning to the goal scoring ace that they already have on the books.

Stat chart legend:
POS: Position; GP: Games Played; GS: Games Started; MINS: Minutes; PA: Passes Attempted; PC: Passes Completed; P%: Passing Accuracy Percentage; G: Goals; A: Assists; SOG: Shots on Goal; SOG/S%: Percentage of Shots that are on Goal; G/SOG%: Percentage of Shots on Goal Converted; SC%: Scoring Percentage; G/90min: Goals per 90 minutes; Hm G: Home Goals; Rd G: Road Goals; FC: Fouls Committed; FS: Fouls Suffered; YC: Yellow Cards; RC: Red Cards


  1. How kind of you to give all that credit for a match against 2nd string reserve players. Next match zilch. Never scored in Harrisburg. Those 4 goals, “good size”, “poise”, wanting to score and a big college resume don’t tip the scales on the ineffective 200 minutes I saw. Maybe after manning up he can play in this league, but “clinical finishers” have to be able to run with the bulls in the MLS. “goal scoring ace”, seriously???

  2. Philly Cheese says:

    Last sentence in review is key. “….consider turning to the goal scoring ace they already have on the books.” Union have been crying for a forward who can “finish” all year. The broken toe did set Hoffman back, but when he was fit, Hackworth still didn’t give Chandler quality minutes the last month of the season to see if a Jack Mac/Hoffman pairing would provide goal scoring opportunities up front. Service with two defensive midfielders being used for most of the season, was non-existent and Daniels and Cruz were seldom anywhere near the goal when they were started, and they did not show any “finishing” ability. The GA tag seems to be a financial draw back, with the Union trying to protect that status rather than putting the best 11 on the pitch.

  3. I still think in 5 years Hoffman will be a much more valuable forward than McInerney and Hoppenot combined. He may benefit from a more possession oriented attack rather than just playing the long-ball through. The difference for me is his quality with the ball at his feet and yes, poise in the final third – something Mac & Hop are severely lacking. I really hope we keep this kid.

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