Former Eldorado High School student Devon Sandoval was back on the field for New Mexico United after sitting out the beginning of the 2022 season due to blood clots found in the artery of his heart.
Sandoval’s future with the team was uncertain after the clots were found in October 2021, but Tuesday night’s game proved he is still in top shape and ready to score goals for the team.
As a freshman in 2005, Sandoval made the varsity soccer team at Eldorado, helping the Eagles to win the state championship that year and again in 2006. The New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame says while Sandoval was in the lineup for the Eagles, the team won two state titles and three district titles. Sandoval was a three-time District Player of the Year and three-time All-State selection player. He was named Male Athlete of the Year in 2008 and 2009 and ESPNRise.com National Player of the Week in 2008 while playing for Classic FC Redstar of the New Mexico Olympic Development Program.
Sandoval played for the UNM Lobos while in college and was the first player signed to New Mexico United in 2018. In October, Sandoval announced he had blood clots in his heart that would prevent him from playing with United for an unknown amount of time. On May 24, he returned to the pitch for the team, subbing in during the second half of the game against Phoenix Rising to a standing ovation and chants of “Let’s go Devon!”
When asked after the game if there was anything he’d like to say to his past coaches at Eldorado, he said, “I keep up with a lot of them and am thankful to them all. I wouldn’t be here without them.” He said it felt good to be back in the game and that he intends to score goals for United throughout the rest of the 2022 season.
Sandoval’s best chance at a goal came around the 53rd minute of the game, when a free kick was given to United outside Phoenix’s goal area. Sandoval curled the ball over the wall, sending the keeper diving, but just skirted the shot over the crossbar, giving Phoenix a goal kick.
Phoenix lost to United 7-0, having to play without many of their first-tier players due to positive COVID-19 test results. The game was originally scheduled for Saturday, May 21, at Isotopes Park but was postponed after Phoenix announced the COVID positive tests.
As far as Sandoval’s health goes, he underwent several procedures to clear the blood clots and was cleared to play about three weeks ago. During his pause playing for United, Sandoval could be spotted at Aztec Park across from Madison Middle School jogging and practicing with the ball. According to the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame, Sandoval has “made multiple appearances at metro area schools and community events.” He also helped found the Albuquerque Futbol Academy with Chris Wehan to “train and give back to the youth community.”
New Mexico United’s next game will be on the road against Indy Eleven at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 28. For those unable to make the road trip, the game will be aired on ESPN+. United then plays Orange County in California at 7 p.m. June 4.