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Why Devon Sandoval makes Real Salt Lake better

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Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

RSL is entering into a critical stretch of their season. With a busy schedule, and players departing for Gold Cup duty, the depth of the team will once again be tested. One player that will really need to step up during this time is 3rd year forward Devon Sandoval. Thankfully for the club, Sandoval has quietly already been proving this year that he is more than ready to take over while regular starter Alvaro Saborio is away.

When you ask the fan base about their thoughts on Sandoval you will get a very mixed reaction. Many people think poorly of him because he is not fast enough, not aggressive enough, and doesn’t finish his chances. While those are all valid arguments in regards to Sandoval, many people miss out on his most valuable trait. He makes his teammates better.

How does he do this? Truthfully it is hard to tell. Perhaps it is his outstanding hold up play. Once the ball gets to him it is very hard for the other team to get the ball away from him. He is great at bringing the ball down and distributing to his oncoming teammates. He just seems to do all the little things that help his teammates to succeed.

This can be seen when looking at the stats. When Devon Sandoval is on the field RSL is scoring a goal every 65 minutes. When he is not on the field the team is scoring every 181 minutes. While he personally is not scoring massive amounts of goals, it is clear to see that offensively the team is much better when he is on the field.

Here is another way to look at it. He has played almost exactly half all available minutes this season (he has played 715 minutes while not playing 725 minutes). While on the field RSL has scored 11 times. By comparison, the team has only scored 4 times when he has not played.

He is pretty good with his distribution as well which surprises some people. He is currently tied for second on the team in assists and also ranks as one of the highest on the team in key passes (pass that leads to a shot).

While he might not be flashy at all, Sandoval does all the little things very well. And RSL as a team is much better because of it.