SANDY, Utah — Soccer is unquestionably a team game, but there are times when it takes the individual brilliance of one player to get results. On Saturday evening, that player was Álvaro Saborío.
Though Real Salt Lake deserve plenty of credit for a heroic defensive performance in their 1-1 draw with FC Dallas, it was Saborío's Herculean effort as a lone striker on a 10-man team and his expertly-taken goal that kept RSL from facing another tough loss at home.
"It was big time, big time. I thought he had a really, really nice night," said Real coach Jason Kreis said of his star forward in his postgame press conference. "Everything he did with the ball was fantastic. His touches, his holding it up for our players to get forward, the work he put in to get that finish off was great. Really, really pleased to get him back in time to send him back to Costa Rica [for international duty] – not."
Saborio put RSL ahead in the 60th minute when he fought off three Dallas defenders on a bouncing ball at the edge of the penalty area, getting good enough position to crack a right-foot shot that found the back of the net.
"I just went to fight with the defender and get the position to make a good shot and hopefully the ball goes in the net," said Saborio to reporters. "I was focusing on the ball and getting good position, making my body the shield and put the ball in the net."
Abdoulie Mansally's poor tackle and ejection early put RSL in a tough situation, forcing them to pull a forward for another defender and leaving Saborio to fend for himself up top. He performed admirably in that role, sometimes finding himself one-on-four.
"Sabo brings just such a physical presence, especially in this game where you have to put a lot of balls over the top," defender Tony Beltran told MLSsoccer.com "He did a great job to show some fantastic strength and skill to hold those balls up. On that [scoring] play, Nick [Rimando] hit a great ball out and he just basically beasted a couple guys and found the corner – a special play by him."
All of the RSL team was appreciative of the work put in by the franchise's all-time leading scorer, and recognized just how important he was in salvaging a point.
"He is a big, strong player, and he is not going to shy away from contact," Ned Grabavoy told MLSsoccer.com. "He held some things up for us tonight that gave us the few opportunities that we had. The goal was a perfect case in point – backs into a guy little bit, feels some contact, pushes through it and has a great finish.
"Sabo is a guy that is going to score goals, and he is going to score them in different ways," continued Grabavoy. "It was really important tonight, especially with just a lone forward to have a guy like that out there."