Philadelphia rookie Hoffman healthy, could start vs. Fire

Chandler Hoffman

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CHESTER, Pa. – Chandler Hoffman is healthy at just the right time for the Philadelphia Union.

With starting striker Jack McInerney suspended for Sunday’s game against Chicago at PPL Park (7 pm ET, Galavision), Hoffman could be in line for some significant playing time – and maybe even his second career start.

Hoffman hasn’t seen the field since June 16 because of a broken toe but played a the full 90 minutes in Philly’s Reserve League game in Montreal on Sunday and isn’t listed on this week’s injury report.

“For Chandler to get 90 minutes coming off his injury, that was important,” Union interim manager John Hackworth said. “He played well. And now he’s fighting to get into the 18 and possibly even making it in the starting lineup with Jack McInerney being out.”

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Hoffman, Philly’s first-round pick in the 2012 SuperDraft, has only played 80 minutes in league play this season but could serve as a jolt to a Union club that’s been shut out in two of their past three games. The Generation adidas player was a proven scorer at UCLA and showed flashes of his pro potential in May, when he netted the game-winning goal in a friendly against FC Schalke 04.

What would it mean for him to not only play his first game in two months but to get a start?

“That would obviously be a huge opportunity,” Hoffman told MLSsoccer.com. “And I’m going to do everything I can this week to put myself in the position where it’s tough for him not to put me out there.”

Throughout his entire rehab stint, which included biking and swimming to keep up his fitness, Hoffman said he had “an open dialogue” with Hackworth about his role on the team and that the Union manager “sees me as a big part of this team.”

But he knows there’s still a long climb for him to work his way back into the mix, and that Sunday’s game was just the first step.

“It felt good to come back,” he said. “It was tough to go from not being able to do much to getting right back into it. But it was nice to get 90 minutes and hopefully that bodes well moving forward.”

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at djzeitlin@gmail.com.