RSL's New Recruits Save the Day

Saborío, González rescue a point for defending champs vs. Seattle

SANDY, Utah — Real
Salt Lake fought back hard to earn a last-second equalizer on Seattle
in their home opener Saturday night. And the play that salvaged the
point was a combination from two of RSL’s more recent acquisitions:
Costa Rican forward Álvaro Saborío and young Argentine midfielder
Nelson González.

Saborío saw action for the second consecutive
week after getting the start, and an assist last week in Houston. He
came off the bench in this one and played a key role, heading in the
winning goal in the dying seconds.

Watch Full Match Highlights

Meanwhile,
González, the man who delivered the ball, was pressed into action after
halftime after a first-half injury to Ned Grabavoy, courtesy of a
strong tackle by Sounders defensive midfielder Osvaldo Alonso.

Saborío
is an accomplished international striker who has scored goals in
bunches for club and country, and one who’s starting to turn his new
teammates into believers.

“I’d put my money on that he’ll score a lot of goals this year for us,” winger Will Johnson said after the match.

Saborío’s
goal came with about 30 seconds left in stoppage time, when RSL
appeared headed for a rare home loss. The defending MLS champs had
earned a corner kick and threw all bodies forward in a last-ditch
effort for an equalizer.

The 21-year-old González had taken a
majority of the corner kicks in the second half, and confidently
trotted to the corner right of goal to take this one. The ball just
cleared the initial group of defenders with good pace, and Saborío rose
up to meet it and managed to hit what Johnson called “a fantastic
header, absolutely world-class.”

Both players contributed
greatly in the second half. Saborío nearly had the equalizer a few
moments before, and helped the team maintain possession in the opposing
end. González was active all night, putting pressure on the right side
of the Sounders back line with his tenacity and pace in the midfield.

The
contributions of Saborío, González and veteran midfielder Andy Williams
showed how far the team has come since its inaugural season in 2005.

“In
the beginning we had just 11 starters and that’s it, but now our bench
is pretty deep,” said Williams. “Same thing last year in the MLS Cup
final, and we start the first home game with the same thing.”

Coach
Jason Kreis likely will need more heroics from his newer recruits and
his bench. RSL’s depth looks like it will be tested after first-half
injuries to Javier Morales (groin) and Grabavoy (sprained MCL), both of
which Kreis deemed “pretty serious.”

For the second consecutive
week, Real Salt Lake gave up two goals, with only two shots on goal.
But that they’re keeping quality chances to a minimum is a good
development. Still, what worries Kreis is where the goals are coming
from.

“Both of these goals came off of dead-ball situations, one
of them off of a throw-in,” he said of Seattle’s tallies, “And we talk
about these details a lot around our club, so that was very
disappointing.”

Still, thanks to Saborío and González, that
last-second equalizer Saturday night helped RSL’s strong home-field
advantage intact. Whether they got away with one against Seattle or
not, they may have found new weapons upon whom to rely.