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Portland Thorns FC Player Profile: Marlene Sandoval

An eight year veteran of the Mexican national team, Marlene Sandoval has amassed 85 caps in the last eight years.

Christof Koepsel

On Tuesday Geoff kicked off our Thorns FC player profiles with an introduction to goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc. Today we continue the profiles on the defensive end with Mexican international Marlene Sandoval.

Brief History

Rubi Marlene Sandoval Nungaray was born and raised in the United States with both American and Mexican citizenship. After attending high school in Placentia, California, Sandoval continued her playing career at Cal-State Fullerton where she was enrolled from 2002-2005.

Sandoval's playing time after leaving Cal-State is something of a mystery. She was first capped for the national team in 2002, her freshman year, and saw regular action as a defensive substitute and occasional starter for Mexico, and played for several clubs; including the L.A. Vikings of the WPSL and the Santa Clarita Blue Heat of the W-League in 2012.

In the 2011 World Cup, Sandoval started Mexico's first game of the tournament but was withdrawn for the team's next outing, a disastrous 4-0 loss to the Japanese, the eventual champions of the Cup.

Sandoval also had a brief stint as an assistant coach at Cal-State while working on her graduate degree in kinesiology.


Sandoval received numerous accolades in high school and college for her play, but a cloudy playing career since then does not leave much with which to work.

  • NSCAA Second-Team All-American, 2005
  • Big West Conference Defender of the Year, 2005
  • Pan American Games - Bronze Medal, 2011


Sandoval, while not a consistent starter, has been with the Mexican National Team for over a decade now and has continued getting caps. Sandoval does not look like a game changer, but she should provide a steady hand at the back for what currently looks like an offensively inclined team.

Sandoval is the tallest of the Timbers defenders and should pair up well with American center back Rachel Buelher. Having outside back and fellow Mexican international Luz Saucedo lining up at fullback should also help to cement the Thorns' back line. Sandoval and Saucedo lined up together in Mexico's 1-1 draw against England in the 2011 World Cup.