SANDY, Utah – When Real Salt Lake play against the New York Red Bulls Saturday evening (7 pm ET; MLS Live), the theme of the evening will be “familiar faces.”
Yes, former RSL players Fabián Espíndola, Jámison Olave and Jonny Steele have all been a big part of the Red Bulls (9-7-5, 32 points) success this season. But RSL would rather focus on a guy they’re getting back – veteran striker Álvaro Saborío.
The Costa Rican forward has played in only eight of the teams 21 games so far this season because of injuries and international duty. But he is back from the Gold Cup and is available for selection after playing in only two of the team's last 13 games.
"Sabo is a great player and obviously a guy we can lean on to score goals," said midfielder Ned Grabavoy. "It's great to have him back without question. … He looks good. He looks healthy, so hopefully while we have him back the next couple months he can help us win some games."
RSL have relied upon a rotation of forwards in Saborio’s absence, with youngsters Devon Sandoval and Olmes García as well as veteran Robbie Findley all taking turns picking up slack. It’s driven them to the top of the table and, so far, kept them there.
They intend to stay there a bit longer, even if it means disappointing their old teammates.
"Those guys are doing pretty well," said Grabavoy after training on Wednesday. "I think that is expected. Fabián and Jámison were with us for a while. Those two players have really proven themselves in the league, and Jonny is making the most of his opportunity. But it is business when you go there. You focus on the game, focus on ourselves."
"Any team with [Thierry] Henry on a team and the team that they have from front to back — they have Olave, Henry, Dax [McCarty] in the middle is playing well — they've got a quality team," McDonald offered after training on Wednesday. "I was fortunate enough to play against them a handful of times when I was over in DC, to see them and to see how they're put together.
"They're a quality team. I don’t think anything else can be said. If you go in there and take them easily, it's not going to be an easy day."