Jan. 17, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - New Mexico Men's Soccer's Blake Smith and Devon Sandoval were both selected in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft on Thursday morning. Smith was selected eighth overall by the Montreal Impact and Devon Sandoval was picked 29th overall by Real Salt Lake. Smith's selection is the highest a Lobo has ever gone in the MLS Draft. He surpassed Andrew Boyens who was selected tenth overall in the 2007 draft. It was truly a special day for Blake Smith who was drafted on his 22nd birthday.
"I'm still feeling a bunch of emotions right now. I am excited, anxious and ready to go out there and fight for a spot. I am blessed that Montreal is giving me this opportunity, and it should be really fun experience," Blake Smith said.
Smith's senior season saw him finish among the nation's leaders in assists with 13. Those 13 assists in the 2012 season were the second most in program history. He and the rest of the Lobos finished the season with a 17-4-1 mark and made their second-straight Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA Tournament. His passing complimented his scoring as he finished the 2011 season as New Mexico's leading scorer.
The Texan left the program with 13 goals and 19 assists in 68 career appearances. He was a two-time NSCAA All-Region team member and repeated as a First Team All-MPSF selection. Smith also garnered numerous academic awards in his career, which included academic all-conference, academic all-district and NSCAA scholar all-region.
"I really had no idea exactly where I was going to be selected, but I knew it would be somewhere in the first round. I thought it could have been as high as eighth with Montreal because I had spoken with them prior and they had a lot of good things to say about me. They also seemed pretty excited at the opportunity to get me, so I knew Montreal was a possibility. Then when the pick was announced, I was excited and really happy for the chance to be a part of the Impact," Smith reflected.
"On behalf of the New Mexico Soccer program, I am very happy for Blake and Devon. Their selections are much-deserved for two young men who are great teammates, exemplary students, and outstanding members of our community" Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein noted.
"It's very exciting to have members of our program selected in the MLS Draft. These are guys who represented the program well, and they are examples for the rest of our team on how to train, prepare and be a member of the Lobo Soccer program. "
Real Salt Lake traded up two selections with the Philadelphia Union to select Devon Sandoval with the ninth pick in the second round (29th overall).
"I was very happy to be picked by Real Salt Lake. I had the opportunity to train with them over the summer for a week. I really liked it out there and enjoyed the team and the coaching staff. I felt like it's a place where I could excel and become a great player. So, when they called my name, I was very happy," Sandoval said.
It was even sweeter for Sandoval to be selected after seeing his teammate Blake Smith go in the top eight picks.
"I was so excited for Blake. He's a good friend of mine and one of the best players I have ever played with. I was so pleased for him, and to see him go that high was pretty sweet," Sandoval observed.
Sandoval's 2012 season was one of the best individual seasons in program history. The Albuquerque native received All-American honors from both College Soccer News and the NSCAA. His 15 goals were the seventh most in college soccer in 2012, and he took home All-Region and All-Conference honors for the second straight season. His play throughout the year earned him a spot on TopDrawerSoccer's National Team of the Week three times as well as three MPSF Player of the Week accolades. His hat trick against UNLV was the first three-goal performance by a Lobo in seven seasons.
Devon Sandoval leaves the Duke City as one of New Mexico's most-decorated Lobos. In just three seasons, he tallied 26 goals and 17 assists while garnering nearly every national and regional award in the college soccer.
As the pair begins the journey of a professional soccer player, they know they will miss the University of New Mexico and Albuquerque's tremendous soccer community.
"I will miss the fans. They are the most loyal fans in College Soccer. New Mexico is unlike anyone else in that sense. All of their support is so appreciated by the entire program. Hopefully they will continue to follow all the Lobos in the MLS," said Blake Smith.