Feb. 25, 2013
ALBUQUERUQE, N.M. - Former University of New Mexico Soccer standouts Blake Smith and Devon Sandoval have both signed professional contracts with their MLS clubs. Smith came to terms with the Montreal Impact and Sandoval with Real Salt Lake, which were the teams that selected them in last month's MLS SuperDraft. Per MLS policies, contract terms were not disclosed.
Smith was the eighth overall pick, which was the highest a Lobo has ever been selected in the MLS Draft. His arrival in Montreal came after his senior season that saw him finish as one of the NCAA leaders in assists with 13. Those 13 assists were the second most in a season in program history.
The Texan wowed scouts at the MLS Combine as he finished in the top three among all prospects in every major speed and agility test. He also scored one goal during a match at the combine in Florida.
"I am very excited for Blake and Devon. They both worked extremely hard throughout their careers to be able to make a living from playing soccer. It's very rewarding for me as a coach to see them achieve their dreams. That's the goal of the Lobo Soccer program; to develop young men who can accomplish their professional goals while being great students and outstanding members of the community at the University of New Mexico," commented Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein
Devon Sandoval was the 29th overall selection by Real Salt Lake. RSL traded up in the draft to select center forward. Less than a month after being drafted, Sandoval inked his professional contract while at training camp in Tucson, Arizona.
"I'm extremely happy. When I finally signed that contract, it took a great weight off my shoulders. However, I still know I have a lot to work on and a lot to prove in Salt Lake City. I need to prove I can be the kind of player that RSL drafted and signed me to be," Sandoval noted.
His contract was signed in his hotel room in front of Real Salt Lake General Manager Garth Lagerwey and Head Coach Jason Kreis. They both congratulated Sandoval and told him his contract was well-deserved after the hard work the Albuquerque native had already put in with the club.
The forward kept the celebration tame after signing his MLS contract. He elected to have a low-key celebration over dinner with his girlfriend Kristin.
Real Salt Lake got immediate return on their investment with Sandoval. He would score his first MLS goals less than 24 hours later in a 3-2 exhibition win over the New England Revolution.
Smith and Sandoval are destined to face each other this season. Real Salt Lake will play the Impact in Montreal on May 11.