Another familiar face will be returning to play for the Atlanta Silverbacks as midfielder Junior Sandoval, who played for the club in 2011, has signed with the squad, after spending nearly two seasons with CD Marathón in his native country of Honduras.
Sandoval, who moved to the Atlanta area as a teenager, has deep ties to the Silverbacks organization, having played for both its first team and reserves. The 23-year-old midfielder signed his first professional contract in 2010, joining second-division side Puerto Rico Islanders, who won the CFU Club Championship that season. A year later, he joined the Silverbacks on loan from the Islanders, scoring two goals and notching two assists for Atlanta during its inaugural NASL season.
After making 15 appearances for the Silverbacks in 2011, the Islanders recalled Sandoval from his loan. The Honduran would go on to make four appearances for Puerto Rico, including one against the Silverbacks in NASL play, before the 2011 season came to a close.
With ambitions to go abroad after the season, Sandoval briefly played for the Silverbacks Reserves in 2012 while he waited to sign another professional contract. After scoring a pair of goals in four games for the Reserves, he signed with Honduran giants CD Marathón.
By signing with Marathón, Sandoval would go on to play very close to where he grew up. The dangerous midfielder immediately saw action in Marathón’s lineup, both in league play and CONCACAF Champions League play. In fact, the Quimistan, Honduras native was in the starting lineup for the club’s 2012 CONCACAF Champions League group stage game against Major League Soccer (MLS) side Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field.
“Junior is a versatile offensive player that can be used in many different ways. He can play on both sides of the field and has the ability to play in the midfield or up top,” said Silverbacks Assistant Ricardo Montoya. “The time he spent playing in the Honduran first division for one of the country’s top clubs has made him a more mature and experienced player, so we look forward to having him on our side.”
After a successful stint in Central America, Sandoval returns home to Atlanta with more experience. A creative and technically-gifted midfielder, Sandoval should fit in well playing in Eric Wynalda’s attack-oriented system.
“We like Junior a lot, and we think he is going to be a nice addition to our team,” said Silverbacks Technical Director Eric Wynalda. “The Silverbacks are very lucky to get a player of his caliber and the fact that he is already very familiar with our organization and the city of Atlanta is a big plus.”
Sandoval, who played at Centennial High School in Roswell, started making a name for himself at Georgia Perimeter College in 2009, scoring nine goals and adding 11 assists in his only collegiate season.
The 5-foot-11 midfielder will join the club when it opens preseason training camp in late February. Fans that would like to purchase tickets for the 2014 season can call the Silverbacks Ticket Office at 404-969-4900.