KANSAS CITY - Chandler Hoffman was roaming the NSCAA convention the night before the MLS SuperDraft when he ran into Union assistant coach Rob Vartughian.
The two met during Hoffman's high school days when Vartughian, then a coach at Maryland tried to convince Hoffman to become a Terrapin.
"I had known Rob through the recruiting process when I [visited] Maryland," said Hoffman. "[On Tuesday night], I saw him in the lobby and we spoke for a minute and he said, 'I don't think you'll slip to us, but we definitely have interest in you.' So that's when I knew if I fell to them they were definitely going to be interested in me."
Hoffman did fall - to lucky No. 13 where the Union nabbed the UCLA forward with its first pick in yesterday's relatively calm draft. At that number, Hoffman is considered a steal. Perhaps most importantly is that he arrives under the Generation Adidas cap, which means he will not count against the Union's salary budget. A college player of the year semifinalist, Hoffman finished the year fourth in Division I in goals and points, tallying 18 goals and six assists.
Union assistant John Hackworth admitted the team was not looking to draft a forward with its first pick, but Hoffman was just too good to pass up.
"I mean, I thought he'd be in the top five," said Hackworth. "So, the fact that he was there is fantastic for us and we'll take it. We were not thinking that we were going to take an attacking player with that pick, but when you are presented with an opportunity like that it's too good to pass up."
Hoffman will rejoin fellow Bruins Amobi Okugo, and Kyle Nakazawa. He is also the fourth Bruin the Union has drafted in its short two-season history. Okugo, Nakazawa and goalkeeper Brian Perk were chosen in 2010.
"I am very excited to get into the preseason, especially knowing those guys it definitely brings about a comfort level that I am very excited about," Hoffman said. "Coming in an as expansion team and doing so well in only their second season. Hopefully this year with my help we can do so much more."
Union boss Peter Nowak also saw Hoffman as the best option available saying that with the club addressing many of its needs in the offseason, Hoffman was more a gift on his wish list.
"We have another young forward to develop . . . and with him being a Generation Adidas player we have the time to do it," said Nowak. "He's a Generation Adidas player, but I think he was very underrated because there was always [fellow UCLA teammate] Kelyn Rowe, who was on the top of the team . . . I feel that he was always in the background, but he definitely has the skills, so we'll see."
With its pair of selections in the second round, the Union took Creighton midfielder Greg Jordan at No. 32 and West Virginia defender Raymon Gaddis at No. 35. In Jordan, 21, the Union receive a second team All-America, who was apart of the U.S.' under-17 national pool. Coincidentally, Jordan and first round Hoffman were teammates at the Combine earlier last weekend in Fort Lauderdale. In Gaddis, the Union selected a player that wasn't even listed in the immediate draft pool, but a guy that has been on Union assistant John Hackworth's radar for quite some time. A player who also excelled while with the Union's PDL affiliate Reading United (2010-11), it was an unspecified injury that kept Gaddis out of the combine. However, on the eve of his 22nd birthday, the Indianapolis native got a chance to realize his dream.
"He's a guy I looked at for the national team back in the day, and I feel that had it not been for his injury, he would have been one of the top defenders in the draft," said Hackworth. "He's a kid I expect will come in and push Sheanon [Williams] at the right back position.
Mwanga staying put
The Union had relatively little buzz at the draft, but a Fox Soccer report that forward Danny Mwanga was being shopped was all the talk. However, Union officials said the report was taken out of context and that the club only listened to informal inquiries.
"For the record we are not shopping Danny Mwanga," said Union assistant Diego Gutierrez. "A lot of teams are finding themselves in a tough spot in the market and are looking within the league to supplement. It just so happens that Danny is a guy with a bright future . . . Do we take calls about Danny? Sure we take calls about Danny all the time, but he's our asset." Hackworth said. "Unless a team offered us $1 million and their first-round pick, Danny isn't going anywhere."
Odds and endlines
This is the first time in the history of the SuperDraft that a full two rounds were completed without a trade . . . Neither Christian Barreiro of Penn, nor Evans Frimpong of Delaware were selected in the draft. However, both are expected to be considered in Tuesday's supplemental draft.