CARSON, Calif. – Chandler Hoffman's first season-and-a-half in MLS hasn't gone quite as he expected it would when he was selected with the 13th pick in last year's SuperDraft.
He made just seven league appearance, with two starts, as a Philadelphia Union rookie last season and has played in just one first-team game, as a late substitute in a US Open Cup loss, after a preseason trade to the LA Galaxy.
The striker from Birmingham, Ala., who turns 23 later this month, has started to find his footing with the Galaxy, scoring four goals in his last two Reserve League games, and is certain to get minutes over the next week as LA take on three European clubs – starting with Real Madrid on Thursday night in Glendale, Ariz. (10 pm ET, FOX Soccer) – in the International Champions Cup exhibition tournament.
He had his moments last year, scoring the winning goal in a May friendly with Schalke 04 and tallying five times in Reserve League play, four of them in an October rout over D.C. United.
“It's been tough. When you're taken in the first round, you obviously have expectations on yourself to contribute right away,” Hoffman told MLSsoccer.com. “Last year, it was hit and miss ... and then I got traded to the Galaxy, and it's been tough. I haven't even been in the 18 yet [in a league game]. So I'm just trying to work hard and learn as much as I can.
“When you come to a team that's won back-to-back championships, it's not going to be easy to step in, but I feel like I'm doing a good job and progressing, and we've got a big couple weeks where I'll get chances.”
The Galaxy are pleased with his development and saw plenty to like in his recent Reserve League performances: last week's victory over Chivas USA, in which he netted a hat trick, and Sunday's 1-0 win over Colorado, in which he scored the lone goal.
“He's a really intelligent player, has always made really good runs and has always been good in front of the goal,” assistant coach Curt Onalfo, who is charge of LA's reserve side, told MLSsoccer.com. “The difference between the last two games and some games earlier in the season is that in the earlier games he didn't put those chances away.
"Now he's burying those chances, so he's playing with a lot of confidence. Any time a forward scores four goals in two games, that's a good sign.”
“I felt coming out of college, I was maybe just a goalscorer,” said Hoffman, who scored 18 as a senior at UCLA. “And I needed to work on other aspects, like holding up the ball, winning the ball for us [in advanced positions].”
Onalfo sees the growth and says consistency and confidence will help Hoffman.
“You never know when [the next step is] going to happen as a forward,” Onalfo said. “We have a lot of forwards on this team, so he'll get some opportunities with these games coming up in these international competitions. Hopefully, he can translate that to the first-team games.”