CHESTER, Pa. – It was a day Chandler Hoffman will never forget.
It’s also a day Hoffman will use as a building block for the future.
Hoffman -- a Generation adidas player who was selected with the 13th overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft – not only received his first playing time this season with the Philadelphia Union. He was rewarded with a start in what wound up being a scoreless draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday at PPL Park.
A MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist following his junior year at UCLA, Hoffman tied for fourth nationally in both goals (18) and points scored (42).
But MLS is a whole different level and Hoffman knows it.
Just getting his first regular season action and helping the Union earn a point was enough to make it a memorable day.
“To see your name in the lineup, have your name announced and walking out of the tunnel with the fans going crazy was something special," Hoffman told philadelphiaunion.com. "It was a great feeling. I was so pumped up at the beginning of the game.”
The adrenaline continued the whole time until he was relieved by Jack McInerney in the 51st minute.
From the opening kick, Hoffman could feel the excitement from within.
“I was so amped at the start and I felt better once I got those first couple of touch passes out of the way,” said Hoffman, who finished his UCLA career with 29 goals, nine assists and 67 points in 54 games played. “I was kind of nervous before the game but I settled down during the game. I still felt the adrenaline and just tried to push through and do everything I could to help the club get the win.”
Feeling that adrenaline during a game is something that can’t be replaced.
Not by practice. Not by scrimmages.
“I think game experience is the best thing for a young player,” said third-year forward Danny Mwanga. “It helps you get better. You can watch the film and see what you did wrong and can correct the mistakes. It’s good for a young player’s confidence to get game action.”
Defender Sheanon Williams echoed similar thoughts.
“To get on the field and play in a game is so much different than practice or a reserve league game,” Williams said. “It puts you in the middle of the action and helps you in so many ways. I can’t speak specifically for Chandler, but I know from my experience, it helped me grow as a player. Chandler is a great player, very talented and is going to a lot of great things here for us here. It was great to see him on the field.”
It was a nice start for Hoffman. But there are many more moments lying ahead.
“I’m going to enjoy this one and keep working like I have since I got here,” Hoffman said. “I’m here to help the team and I will work as hard as anyone. I’m excited to be a member of the Philadelphia Union and I’m honored to play in front of these great fans.
"Hopefully, my name will be called again. I will keep working to be ready for whatever the club asks of me.”
Great to make my MLS Debut in front of our awesome @PhilaUnion fans wanted 3 points but will keep working.— Chandler Hoffman (@chandala) March 31, 2012