ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Smith Goes to Montreal, Sandoval to Real Salt Lake in MLS Draft
On the occasion of his 22nd birthday, Blake Smith decided to learn French.
The New Mexico soccer standout was drafted Thursday by the Montreal Impact in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft.
A couple of hours later, his UNM teammate, Devon Sandoval, was selected by Real Salt Lake — a team he already has a relationships with — in the second round, the 29th overall pick.
Sandoval, an Albuquerque native who played at Eldorado, was seventh in the NCAA last year with 15 goals.
Smith, who was second in the NCAA with 13 assists last season, was the eighth overall pick, the highest a Lobo has gone in the MLS draft. Andrew Boyens was selected 10th in 2007.
“I’m excited to learn French,” Smith said from his Boerne, Texas, home. “It will be cool to speak two languages.”
And he’s happy for the opportunity to make an impact on the Impact.
“Now I’ll be playing with guys I grew up watching,” Smith said.
The Lobo said he met with Montreal officials during the MLS Combine this week in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., giving him a hint of their interest.
“They talked highly of me and said that hopefully they’d have an opportunity to take me,” Smith said.
“We’ve been following Blake for a while now,” Matt Jordan, the Impact’s director of soccer operations, said on the team’s website. “He is a very good outside midfielder who provides excellent service into the box. He has really good speed and is capable of varying his game. We are very happy to add him to the roster.”
The 5-foot-10, 150-pound Smith scored 13 goals and had 19 assists in his UNM career. Now he awaits word of when the team wants him to begin his Canadian adventure.
“It’s my birthday today,” Smith said. “I’m going to spend some time with my family and enjoy today, then see where I am tomorrow.”
Sandoval spent about a week working out with Real Salt Lake last summer.
“I got to meet all the coaches and players, and I really liked it there,” Sandoval said. “That’s the team I was hoping would pick me up.”
The 6-1, 185-pound Sandoval, who watched the draft at his parents’ house in Albuquerque with his family and girlfriend, thought something might be happening when Real Salt Lake traded up two spots.
“I think my style of play will fit in pretty good,” Sandoval said. “They run the same type of formation as we played at UNM, so I will have the same role as a target forward.”
Sandoval will fly to Salt Lake City today.
“Now I’m getting back to business,” he said.
Louisville defender Andrew Farrell was the top pick, selected by the New England Revolution. Connecticut midfielder Carlos Alvarez, who helped beat UNM in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, was taken second by Chivas USA.
— This article appeared on page D5 of the Albuquerque Journal