RSL's Saborío inspired against former club
SANDY, Utah – All eyes were on Álvaro Saborío on Tuesday night. And with the spotlight thrust on him as he faced his former club in the CONCACAF Champions League, Real Salt Lake’s Designated Player came through with the critical early goal just nine minutes into the game.
“We attacked in the opening minutes and then we got an early goal,” Saborío said unassumingly after the match. “It was about winning the game, whether I scored or not.”
He now has eight goals since the tournament started last summer, good for second best in the competition after Cruz Azul’s Javier Orozco.
Although Saborío promised that he wouldn’t celebrate against his former team, the Costa Rican international did indulge in an enthusiastic pumping of his arms into the air. He insists it was not a celebration.
“I’ve always said that I am Saprissista,” Saborío said. “It’s tough [to score against Saprissa] but we have to focus on our team.
“Unfortunately, we had to face them. All we can do is look forward.”
It was an inspired performance from the ex-Saprissa man, who was not only doing the job in the attacking end but also when it came to tracking back and helping defensively.
“When you see our playmaker Javier [Morales] coming back to make plays and Sabo making plays, you know it’s a team effort,” goalkeeper Nick Rimando said.
The game turned physical with arms flailing and elbows flying off the ball. The visitors finished with five yellow cards and not even Saborío was spared by his fellow Costa Ricans. Midway through the first half he was seen taking a blow to the back of the head from defender Gabriel Badilla.
“He didn’t have any reason to hit me,” Saborío said, “but those are things in a game. He fights for his and I’ll fight for myself. … He chose this form of defending. That’s the end of it.”
The return match comes on April 5. The RSL front man is very familiar with the “The Monster's Cave,” the nickname given to the Estadio Saprissa in San Jose, Costa Rica. The rabid fan support and the artificial surface will make for a challenge as Real Salt Lake seek to make their two-goal aggregate lead hold up.
“It’s going to be tough,” Saborío said. “They’re going to push forward and they’re going to have the crowd behind them.
“But we’ve never changed the way we play and this has benefited us.”