It’s not every day a player from Alabama lands on MLS radars. But that’s the case of Chandler Hoffman, UCLA’s top scorer this season and now a member of the 2012 Generation adidas class.
MLSsoccer.com caught up with the goal scorer to chat about his new celebrity status in his hometown of Birmingham and thoughts about making the jump to MLS.
MLSsoccer.com: What are your thoughts about signing a Generation adidas contract and turning pro?
Hoffman: I’m thrilled to be included in the Generation adidas list, when you just look at the players that have come through this program, it’s basically every big name American player. To have that opportunity to come into MLS and be a professional athlete, which has been my goal, is a major accomplishment and something I’m very proud of.
I also see it as a new beginning and a time to prove myself once again because coming to UCLA from Alabama a lot of people didn’t believe I could do it, and I’m sure that at the next level there are going to be people who think I can’t do it. So it’s just added motivation to me to prove myself because I definitely do think I’m good enough to be a goal scorer at the highest level.
MLSsoccer.com: How would you describe yourself as a player?
Hoffman: I would say that I’m the most dangerous inside the 18-yard box. Any time that I can sneak behind a defender and make a darting run into space and get a look at goal, there’s a pretty good chance I’m going to find the back of the net. That’s what I’ve done my whole life, scoring tons of goals in high school and tons of goals at UCLA. Just hoping to continue the trend at the next level. Obviously, it’s going to be a challenge, but I’m very excited about it.
MLSsoccer.com: Alabama isn't typically known as a hotbed for soccer. What are your thoughts on coming from a somewhat unusual background for a pro soccer player?
Hoffman: It’s definitely been cool since I’ve been back over Christmas break. Whenever I’ve been out training with a couple of my buddies and there are little kids out training, they want to come over and take a picture with me. Their parents have all these questions that they are asking me.
With the Final Four in Birmingham, it’s cool to see how far soccer’s come since I’ve played, and a lot of people did tell me I helped put Alabama on the map and giving guys the courage to go out of state and try to succeed at the next level in college soccer. A lot of kids say they want to be like me when they grow up, which is funny to hear being only 21, but it’s been a really cool experience.
MLSsoccer.com: Any nerves about making the transition to the next level?
Hoffman: I wouldn’t say nerves. I would definitely say [I'm just] excited. Being able to train with the Galaxy [last summer] was obviously a really cool opportunity and experience to give me a taste at that level.
With UCLA, we’re able to scrimmage Chivas and scrimmage the Galaxy in the spring, so I have some experience playing against them, and then obviously training with them. I’m excited to be in that environment every day and do what I love for a living.