CARSON, Calif. – Chandler Hoffman spent draft day last year praying that somehow, some way, the LA Galaxy would call his name. It took an another 13-and-a-half months to realize his “dream,” and now that it's come true, he sees opportunities that didn't exist for him in Philadelphia.
The 22-year-old forward from Birmingham, Ala., who considered Los Angeles home after three years at UCLA, arrived in a trade last week from the Union and hopes to make his Galaxy debut in Thursday night's CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg at Herediano (8 pm ET, Fox Soccer).
“There's nowhere else I'd rather be,” Hoffman told MLSsoccer.com following LA's training session Tuesday morning at the Home Depot Center. “Hopefully, I can learn from the guys like Robbie [Keane] and Mike [Magee], and the [move means the] Champions League – I'm heading down [to Costa Rica] today – a lot more games, and just trying to continue to get better each day as a player.”
He trained with the Galaxy “two or three times a week for about two months” in the summers before his sophomore and junior seasons at UCLA,” driving down to Carson with college teammate Andy Rose – now a Seattle Sounders midfielder – to get his first taste of the professional game.
“It was great going into the league, to see how to carry yourself and what to do,” Hoffman said. “When to get to the locker room, how to prepare before training, how to recover post-training. It definitely prepared me for the professional ranks.”
Hoffman, an All-American at UCLA, was a bargain for the Galaxy, which gave up a conditional 2014 SuperDraft selection for his services. He's a Generation adidas player, so he doesn't count against the salary cap.
“We know Chandler,” head coach Bruce Arena said. “He's been around for a couple of years, from his UCLA days. Good young player. He's going to have to get adjusted to us, but he fits right in. He seems comfortable here. I think as the season goes along, we're going to see him make progress.”
Hoffman was concerned about progressing in Philadelphia. He said Union coach John Hackworth told him “they wanted me to learn from the guys like Conor [Casey] and Sébastien [Le Toux], and hopefully be the guy down the line,” but the club isn't fielding an MLS Reserve League team this season, so “it was going to be tough to get minutes and to progress as a player.” He figures to get those minutes with the Galaxy.
“[My rookie year] was full of ups and downs,” said Hoffman, who made seven MLS appearances in 2012, with two starts. “I got injured midway through the year. I was scoring a lot of goals, whether in reserve games or friendlies, and I was able to get a couple of starts and some minutes. ... It got me prepared – I got the first minutes out of the way, the kind of rookie jitters, so this year I'm ready to contribute.”