KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Philadelphia Union manager Peter Nowak says that his team’s pre-draft preparations had forward Chandler Hoffman, one of college soccer’s most prolific strikers, going well before the 13th pick in Thursday’s SuperDraft.
“I was very surprised,” Nowak told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday after his club landed Hoffman. “Chandler was the best option available. We didn’t hesitate. And we have another young forward to develop. Especially with being Generation adidas, we have the time to make it work.”
Hoffman talked about running into Union assistant coach Rob Vartughian in the lobby Wednesday night and being told, “There was no way you’re going to be there when we pick.”
“I felt at the Combine I hadn’t met with that many teams and I felt maybe was there was a chance of falling that far in the draft,” Hoffman said. “Obviously, I’m just thankful to be picked.”
Although the Union are a team overflowing with talented young forwards – Jack McInerney, Danny Mwanga and Josué Martínez join French veteran Sébastien Le Toux up top – Nowak makes it clear that Hoffman is a welcome addition because of US Olympic duty involving Freddy Adu and Jack McInerney.
“If they all go to the Olympic games, we have to have somebody who’s going to fill the shoes,” Nowak said. “When we got the program from the U-23s, we’re going to lose those guys for a good couple of months.”
Union assistant coach John Hackworth dispelled the reports that had Mwanga leaving Philly which may have been fueled by Hoffman’s acquisition.
“No truth to that,” Hackworth said. “There were some teams interested in possibly making a trade. We don’t want to do that. Chandler was available and we felt he was one of the best players in the draft and we were really lucky to have him.”
Hackworth scouted Hoffman during US Soccer Academy Showcases and saw his natural goal-scoring ability up close.
“He might get overshadowed by Kelyn Rowe at UCLA,” Nowak said, referring to Rowe’s selection with the third overall pick by the New England Revolution. “But he’s a guy who has continued to do it. Chandler is a little different than most guys. When you can get guys who can put the ball in the back of the net, that’s a valuable thing.”
Hoffman will team up with fellow ex-UCLA players Amobi Okugo, one of his best friends, and midfielder Kyle Nakazawa. He’s looking forward to an easy transition to hit the ground running.
“Definitely going to preseason it’s going to be an adjustment period,” Hoffman said. “But my nose for goal and my ability to make other players better and create goal-scoring opportunities will separate me and help me get my spot on the field.”
WATCH: Chandler Hoffman talks with MLSsoccer.com