A night before the MLS SuperDraft, Philadelphia Union assistant coach Rob Vartughian ran into Generation adidas member Chandler Hoffman in the lobby of the Kansas City Convention Center.
According to Hoffman, Vartughian told him although the Union were very interested in the UCLA striker, they just didn’t expect him to still be available by the time it was their turn to make the 13th overall pick.
Hoffman didn’t think he’d be around at that point either.
“Just from everything I had heard and read, I assumed I would be somewhere in the top 10,” Hoffman told MLSsoccer.com by phone from the SuperDraft.
But drafts can be unpredictable, and when Hoffman ended up falling to the No. 13 slot, the Union scooped him up without any hesitation.
Similar to last year’s draft, when the Union selected Rookie of the Year finalist Michael Farfan in the second round, they were shocked by their good fortune.
“It’s very similar and pretty surprising,” Union assistant coach John Hackworth said moments after the draft ended. “But good for us, right? We get one of the best young attacking players in the country, someone that’s proven to put the ball into the back of the net. There’s nothing more valuable in all of soccer.”
Leading up to Thursday, the Union said all along they would seek out the best available player in the draft rather than fill a position of need – and they seemed to stay true to their word.
Hoffman, who was fourth in the nation with 18 goals in 2011, joins a loaded striking corps that already includes Sébastien Le Toux, Danny Mwanga, Jack McInerney, Josué Martinez and Veljko Paunović.
In the second round, though, the Union added reinforcements at other positions, selecting Creighton midfielder Greg Jordan with the 32nd pick and West Virginia defender Raymon Gaddis at No. 35.
According to Hackworth, Jordan, a defensive midfielder who was a NSCAA Second-Team All-American in his senior year, is a “great kid” who is “more effective than people give him credit for.”
And Gaddis, who played for Union affiliate Reading United AC of the USL-PDL, is “probably one of the best right back prospects in the country” and only fell off people’s radars because of an injury.
“I think it was exceptional,” Hackworth said of the Union’s haul. “We got probably one of the best attacking players in the country, a hard-working midfielder, and cover in the back that we needed.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Philadelphia Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.