SALT LAKE CITY – In his first career playoff start, University of New Mexico men’s soccer alumnus Devon Sandoval made the most of his time of the pitch for Real Salt Lake in the MLS playoffs. Sandoval tallied his first career MLS playoff goal in the 48th minute as Real Salt Lake defeated the Portland Timbers 4-2 in the Western Conference Finals. The goal was the seventh score of Sandoval’s standout rookie campaign.
“I was really happy with my performance. I thought I held up the ball well and linked up with my team and I was happy to get a goal, so I’ll take it,” Sandoval told the Salt Lake media afterwards. “We (he and Findley) were both just working hard and running after each other. When you have two forwards who are working hard, good things happen.
Sandoval’s playoff performance didn’t come as a surprise to his head coach.
“[Devon Sandoval] is a first-year player and he didn’t look like a first-year player to me. I think that’s because he’s played in five to ten matches for us – five or ten matches starting – and he’s been very effective,” RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis told reporters afterwards.
Sandoval played three seasons with the Lobos from 2010-12, which included his All-American senior season in 2012. Sandoval was a NCAA leader in scoring with 15 goals and seven assists in 2012. He also helped guide the Lobos to back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances in the 2011 and 2012 NCAA Tournaments.
He and the rest of Real Salt Lake will play the second match of their Western Conference Finals match-up in Portland, Oregon next week.