20-year Ian Hoffman is headed back out on loan as the Houston Dynamo announce that he is being loaned to Orange County SC of the USL Championship, according to a club release. The USL Championship is the highest division of the United Soccer League.
Orange County are the reigning USL Championship league champions, however it's been a tough season this year for them as they currently have just 14 points through 15 matches and are in 12th place in the Western Conference of the USL Championship. They will hope that Hoffman will help them turn their season around.
The young defender/midfielder has been in the Houston Dynamo system for roughly two years. He played in six matches (with two starts) in MLS play for the 1st team in 2021. He totaled 248 minutes played and completed 85.5% of his passes. Those are his only career MLS appearances so far in his career, as he's yet to play with the 1st team this season (and didn't play after his arrival in 2020).
This year Hoffman has mainly been playing for the Houston Dynamo II/Dynamo Dos in MLS Next Pro where he has been a regular starter. He has started nine matches on the year, and has played 781 minutes. He is completing 77.2% of his passes on the season so far in MLS Next Pro. He's 2nd on the Dynamo Dos team with 15 successful tackles. He has also won 109 duels on the year (once again 2nd best on the Dos) at a 46.8% clip. He also leads the team by far in interceptions with 18. He has made six key passes as well.
Hoffman joined the Dynamo organization in 2020 after he spent his youth career in Germany. He spent 2020 with Houston's USL affiliate at the time, Rio Grande Valley FC (the two clubs are no longer affiliated). He worked into the MLS rotation at the end of 2021, and then has been with the Dos so far this year.
Hoffman currently has a valuation of 110K on Transfermarkt. He has also previously played for the United States Youth National Team system at the U-16, U-18, and U-20 levels.
This is an interesting move, because it is moving Hoffman up from a "Division III" league in MLS Next Pro to a "Division II" league in the USL Championship. Many would perceive this as a move up in competition for Hoffman which could be a good thing. It could mean that Houston believes he is ready for the next step up in his development.
A counterpoint to that is that he is now out of the Houston organization. I'm not saying Orange County won't do their best to continue to develop Hoffman (as he will help them season), but he's no longer in the Dynamo's system. Orange County might just do things differently. That's not a knock on any party involved, it's just something that you have to keep in mind when loaning a player out to a team that is not within your organization. It's also more difficult for you to keep day-by-day tabs on his development.
Another factor in this move is that Hoffman is moving out of the MLS Next Pro system and back into the USL system for the rest of this season. It is just an interesting move because of what has been happening in the last 12 months with so many MLS teams moving their reserve teams out of the USL and into the newly created (or recreated depending on your semantics) MLS Next Pro. I'm probably just reading too much into it, but it does add a layer to the move.
Hoffman is a still young player with a lot of potential. Hopefully this is a move that can help him continue his development, and the Dynamo will hope that this move will help him develop into a 1st team contributor soon. Potentially as soon as next season.