By NICHOLAS MURRAY – firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, February 19, 2016
After his success for both the LA Galaxy II and Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC over the past two seasons, it made sense that Chandler Hoffman was a player in demand this offseason.
When he made the decision to make the move the Louisville City FC, he made a decision that made most sense to him.
“When I was figuring out what team I wanted to be a part of this year, when I was talking with [Louisville Coach] James [O’Connor], we kind of aligned on what my vision [is] for me as a player and where he saw me fitting into this club,” Hoffman said this week. “There’s definitely big expectations this year, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Hoffman was a first-round draft selection of the Philadelphia Union in 2012 after a standout career at UCLA and a 2011 PDL All-League selection for the Orange County Blue Star. After seeing action in his rookie season, a trade sent him back to the west coast and the LA Galaxy, where he became an integral member of the Galaxy II in their inaugural season in 2014.
“I think it was huge in setting the blueprint for how clubs are doing things now, and for me it was an awesome experience,” Hoffman said. “Training all week with the first team, playing a decent number of games for the team that would end up winning MLS Cup, and then being an instrumental part to [Los Dos]. I think Curt [Onalfo] did a great job the first year, and obviously they had an incredible year last year as well, of balancing his rostered players for [the Galaxy II] and the guys that come down from the first team to get minutes and stay sharp.”
Hoffman was on the move again last year as he joined the Houston Dynamo, but a deep attacking group saw him sent on loan to the Switchbacks, where he again played a role in helping a side reach the USL Playoffs in its inaugural season. Hoffman had four goals and one assist in 10 games for Colorado Springs as the club reached the semifinals of the Western Conference Playoffs, only to fall in a penalty shootout to OKC Energy FC.
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“With it being the first year, later in the season and into the playoffs, the community was really getting behind the club, and the style of play that Steve [Trittschuh] has there is very exciting, and they definitely used the elevation and altitude to their advantage and that makes it real difficult when teams come to play there,” Hoffman said. “We played a very high tempo, a very counter-attacking style and caused a lot of teams problems. If you look at the Oklahoma City game in the playoffs, that game could have gone either way.”
Louisville utilized a similar style on its way to the final of the Eastern Conference Playoffs, as the club led the league in goals during the regular season with 55. As the likely replacement for 2015 league MVP Matt Fondy as City’s spearhead, Hoffman is ready for the challenge that lies ahead of him.
“If you saw some of their games last year, they obviously did a very good job of keeping the ball and getting the ball wide, and Matt did a great job last year of getting in the box and finishing things off,” Hoffman said. “As we look to build on what they did last year, I definitely want to be a presence in the box and be able to score goals for us.”
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Hoffman has also been happy to see the progression of the USL as a league. As the level of quality in MLS has been boosted by overseas attacking imports, Hoffman has been pleased by the rising level of competition in the USL as it looks to provide opportunities for players to stake their claim for top-flight action.
“If you look at the quality of players and the level of play over the last few years, it’s grown tremendously,” Hoffman said of the USL. “I’m very happy that there’s the opportunity to play games at a high level, and you look at the fan base in Louisville, in places like Sacramento, and you’re getting first-class environments to play in. For me I just wanted to continue my career where I was playing every week and scoring goals, because ultimately as a striker that’s the most important thing is getting games.”
With the experience he brings from both Los Dos and the Switchbacks, Hoffman will be a key player as Louisville looks to push higher in its second season.“The last two years in the USL I’ve had playoff experience, I’ve scored goals and got assists in the playoffs, so I’m looking to bring my experiences from there to Louisville City,” Hoffman said. “The goal here is a championship, and that’s what we’re working towards.”