2016 Ranking: #23
Writer Rating: 4.57
Community Rating: 4.24
Signed with RSL: 2013
Appearances: 12 (2)
Goals / Assists: 0
Drafted 29th in the 2013 MLS Draft out of the University of New Mexico, Devon Sandoval has provided depth in the attack for Real Salt Lake. Despite officially spending his entire professional career with Real Salt Lake, Sandoval has been spent parts of the last three years loaned out to lower division sides.
This year, Sandoval split his time between three clubs; RSL, Real Monarchs of the USL, and Rayo OKC of the NASL.
The rough-and-tumble forward is renowned for his physical style of play found first team action hard to come by, but excelled in the lower divisions. Throughout 2016, Sandoval played 1,305 minutes over the course of 28 matches – a personal record. His stats did not improve, however, scoring only two goals and adding three assists. For a player that had previously played in the NASL with the Carolina Railhawks, Sandoval struggled to make a decisive late season impact for Rayo.
Like many other RSL players, Sandoval also played for the club’s USL affiliate, Real Monarchs. This is where Sandoval performed his best and added a veteran presence as the 25 year-old orchestrated the attack. His best stats of the year came from his USL appearances, keeping 44 percent of his shots on target and maintaining a solid 11 percent conversation rate. While his style of play provided some great hold-up play, it sometimes got the Monarchs in trouble as they trended towards counter-attacking play.
Sandoval has been a solid depth player for RSL, but his overall potential is much lower than other attackers on the roster. For example, Olmes Garcia is a year younger than Sandoval and provides the Claret-and-Cobalt with a unique set of talents. While Sandoval plays the traditional Number 9 role tasked with dominating the opponent’s box, Garcia is able to play any of the three roles up top for RSL earning him 30 more appearances than his peer. Garcia also produces a goal every nine appearances, in contrast to Sandoval’s 11, and keeps more shots on target. In addition, Real added the services of Emery Welshman and Ricardo Velazco in 2016, seemingly moving Sandoval further down the depth chart. Therefore, with an already stacked attacking corps, Sandoval seems to be an expendable asset.
Seeing Sandoval moved to the USL side permanently would definitely benefit the organization as he could be a leader both on the pitch and in the locker room, but the veteran would probably have other suitors in the second division rather than moving to a third-tier side. As such, it is possible that the Lobo could take his services elsewhere.
Although Sandoval had a relatively good professional start, he never really stood out and could easily be placed on the chopping block this off-season as change is once again in the air for Real. As the rebuilding process continues before commencement of the 2017 season, it is a distinct possibility that we have seen Sandoval in a RSL kit for the last time.