Atlanta Silverbacks midfielder Junior Sandoval was named North American Soccer League (NASL) Player of the Week after scoring the game-winning goal in his club's first-ever victory over the Carolina RailHawks at WakeMed Soccer Park this past weekend.
"It feels amazing to be recognized by the league because I've been working so hard to grow as a player and as a person. I think my game is headed in the right direction, and I think the team is too, which is what is most important," said Sandoval, who has played in 15 games for the Silverbacks in 2014. "We knew it was going to be a tough game, but with our intense preparation beforehand, we were very confident that we were going to get a result. I'm just glad we got the three points."
After being the Silverbacks most active player in the attack on Saturday night, the Honduras native opened the scoring in the 63rd minute with his fifth goal of the season, receiving a pass from forward Jaime Chavez and firing a 25-yard shot past RailHawks goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald.
The Silverbacks went on to add a second tally, blanking the RailHawks in a 2-0 win that ended their three-game winless streak and placed them back in the hunt for a berth in The Championship, the league's four-team postseason tournament.
"I'm excited for Junior, and I think this honor is well deserved," said Silverbacks Head Coach Jason Smith. "He has been working very hard in the past couple of weeks - he scored a great goal in San Antonio and an even better one in Carolina to help us get three points on the road."
Earlier this year, Sandoval returned to Atlanta for his second stint with the Silverbacks after spending two seasons (2012-2014) playing with CD Marathón in his native country of Honduras. In 2011, the Puerto Rico Islanders loaned Sandoval to the Silverbacks for the first 15 games of the season - he would go on to score two goals. Later that season, Sandoval, who had been with the Islanders since 2010, returned to the Puerto Rican side where he saw action in three games at the end of the 2011 NASL campaign.
Born in Quimstán, Honduras, Sandoval grew up in Alpharetta, Ga. He played one season of collegiate soccer at Georgia Perimeter College, where he led the Jaguars as a freshman with nine goals and 11 assists. Sandoval would later spend two seasons (2008-09) with Atlanta FC (now Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves) of National Premier Soccer League.