CHESTER, Pa. – Officially, Chandler Hoffman has never scored an MLS goal.
But the Philadelphia Union rookie (above left) is convinced he headed in the team’s only tally in Sunday’s 3-1 loss to Chicago.
On the 34th-minute play, Hoffman jumped for a Freddy Adu cross and it was hard to tell if he flicked it toward goal or not. It was credited as an own goal after it then bounced off the foot or Fire defender Jalil Anibaba.
GOAL: Did Hoffman get a touch?
“It definitely touched my head,” Hoffman said. “I was going to celebrate like it was mine. … Obviously it would have been great to get my first MLS goal. Those are hard to come by. It’s definitely something I would want to take.”
Regardless of the ball’s route to the back of the net, it was important just for Hoffman to be out on the field Sunday.
It was only the rookie’s fourth appearance of the season and first since June 16, the result of a broken toe and the ensuing recovery time. Hoffman got the start in place of the suspended Jack McInerney and played 69 minutes before coming off.
“Chandler is a guy that came in with some big shoes to fill in Jack Mac,” Union interim manager John Hackworth said. “He did a good job. He is telling me he flicked that ball, so I’m giving him credit for the goal.”
Hoffman was pleased to get just the second start of his short career, crediting a good week in training and admitting it was “great to see Hack have confidence in me.”
And even though the offense mostly stalled, the rookie out of UCLA said he thought his performance amounted to a pretty good return – goal or no goal.
“I felt good tonight running around,” he said. “I thought I was hustling really hard and trying to find ways to get us goals.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.