SANDY, Utah - It's tough enough to become a professional soccer player in Major League Soccer and only a fraction of players in the MLS ever score a goal. This makes what Devon Sandoval did on Wednesday night for Real Salt Lake even more impressive. The former Lobo Soccer star scored a pair of goals in his team's 5-2 win over the USL's Charleston Battery in the MLS's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup competition. A note-worthy feat that's made even more special by the fact Sandoval is still just a rookie.
(Sandoval's goals are at the 2:30 and 5:00 marks)
After his team fell behind 2-0, Sandoval spearheaded a comeback by scoring twice while also earning RSL a pair of penalty kicks after drawing fouls in the box. Both of the center forward's goals came off headers, which is something Lobo fans are used to seeing from his University of New Mexico days.
"I didn't think he was the sharpest, until he scored that goal - then I thought he was fantastic. I don't think he put a wrong touch the rest of the way," Real Salt Lake Head Coach Jason Kreis said of Sandoval to the Salt Lake City media after the match.
Sandoval drew some of the inspiration for one of his goals from a recent United State National Team match he watched.
"I was watching the U.S. Men's National Team a few weeks ago and [FW Jozy Altidore] scored one similar to that and as soon as I saw it I texted Tony (Beltran) and said we've got to score one like that. Tonight was about as close as it gets, so I'm happy," said Sandoval to reporters. "I thought about getting my hat trick for a second but that's not what's important to me. The team winning and the teams effort is what matters and he stepped up and scored."
It's been a banner rookie campaign for the Albuquerque native since being selected 29th overall in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. After five appearances coming off the bench, Sandoval made his first career start against the Seattle Sounders on March 30. He later went on to score his first MLS goal in just his fourth start versus the New England Revolution.
(The Lobo Faithful have seen this from Devon Sandoval before...)