Álvaro Saborío was back on the pitch Saturday night, just 11 days after spraining his right shoulder. The rust barely showed.
The Costa Rica international netted his second hat trick of the season in a Real Salt Lake rout of Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center, and reminded RSL fans why he and Fabián Espíndola — who had a hat trick of assists on the night — are a lethal combination as the postseason approaches.
"Sabo's performance tonight was spectacular," head coach Jason Kreis told reporters after the match. "But the first two goals were gifted to him. They were really, really easy for him to score. That comes from the work of Fabián Espíndola. I thought he was absolutely a monster for us tonight."
The first goal and assist came in the eighth minute. Espíndola centered a ball to the middle from outside the right side of the penalty area. Javier Morales had a beautiful flick-on header to the back post where Saborío was lurking and simply stretched out his leg to tap it in.
The second RSL goal once again featured the dynamic duo up top. Espíndola's hustle and pressure paid off as the Argentine intercepted a Dan Kennedy pass and turned and found Sabo all alone in the box for an easy tap-in again.
Sabo's goal to finish his hat trick in the 65th minute was a thing of beauty. Kennedy had blocked a Will Johnson opportunity, but the ball bounced off the 'keeper to Saborío just outside the box. RSL's all-time leading scorer showed both his awareness and perfect touch, taking the ball with his back away from goal and quickly turning and chipping a shot over the head of Kennedy. The ball floated toward net, and after just grazing the crossbar, it glanced down and into the net.
"He's been a world-class goalscorer and forward for us since he's been here," team captain Kyle Beckerman said of Saborío. "We're really glad to have him."
"Those two really complement each other well," continued Beckerman about both forwards. "One is that post-up, natural, tall, big forward, and Fabián is the dasher, slicer and he can really do some special things out there. He is really dangerous for us."
RSL have scored three goals six times this season, but the Claret-and-Cobalt weren't content with just that. The four-goal mark had eluded them all season, until Saturday.
Espíndola got his third assist on the night as he pushed a terrific through-ball to Paulo Jr. in the 81st minute. The Brazilian striker looked up as he entered the box and fired a blast to the top-right corner.
It was a perfect way for RSL to end their first of two trips to Los Angeles in a seven-day span — the team returns to the Home Depot Center next weekend to face the Galaxy in a monster clash for Western Conference playoff seeding.
"I just feel like we have a lot of our players rounding into form, playing confidently," said Kreis, "and now the performance of the entire group tonight should put us in a good place for next week."