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," Hoffman said. "[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," Hackworth said. "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 join 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 an 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," Nowak said. "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 Hoffman were teammates at the Combine earlier last weekend in Fort Lauderdale. In Gaddis, the Union selected a player who wasn't even listed in the immediate draft pool. Still, he had been on Hackworth's radar for quite some time. Gaddis excelled while with the Union's Premier Development League affiliate Reading United (2010-11), but an unspecified injury kept him 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," Hackworth said. "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 a full two rounds were completed without a trade . . . Neither Christian Barreiro of Penn, nor Evans Frimpong of Delaware were selected in the draft. Both are expected to be considered in Tuesday's supplemental draft.
DRAFT PICKS' BIOS
A closer look at who the Union selected in the MLS SuperDraft
For kicks: A first-round steal, Hoffman was pegged as one of the top five players in the draft . . . A Missouri Athletic Club's Hermann Trophy semifinalist, finished his junior year tied for fourth nationally in goals (18) and points scored (42) . . . Set all-time single-season Pac-12 records for goals and points . . . Tied UCLA records for consecutive games with a goal (five) and multiple-goal games (four) . . . Left UCLA after his junior season to turn pro.
For kicks: A second-team All-America, Jordan is expected to come in and push for a spot in what is a very crowded midfield. His height certainly puts him at an advantage . . . Helped Creighton secure 19 shutouts in 2011 (one shy of the NCAA record), adding three goals and three assists . . . Had seven goals and eight assists in his career. Started 60 of 62 games.
School: West Virginia
For kicks: Gaddis has been a kid on the Union radar for quite some time . Union assistant John Hackworth said Gaddis was one of the top defenders in the draft despite missing the Combine due to injury . . . Gaddis earned second- team all-Big East honors as a senior in 2011 . . . Registered six assists in 73 career games . . . Played for Union Premier Developmen League affiliate Reading United in 2010 and 2011.