LEHI, Utah – When Alvaro Saborio was named MLS Player of the Week on Monday, nobody was particularly surprised. The Costa Rican standout did have two goals against Houston, but those who watched the match saw his dominance all over the attacking end of the field.
However, despite his strong reputation – 131 goals scored in club play over nine years, and 22 in 55 Costa Rican national team matches – there were questions about how well Sabrio would perform in this league.
First, there was an issue of confidence and form. According to head coach Jason Kreis, that was a topic of conversation during a trip to Costa Rica before the team signed him. The other issue was that whether Saborio would fit into the style of play within the league and the team
“We expect our forwards to work very hard, and they don’t do that everywhere in the world,” Kreis explained. “But he’s embraced that, he’s committed to it and he’s defending extremely well for us and that’s always going to help us.”
It would appear Saborio has passed both tests with flying colors. And that's a very scary thought for the rest of MLS.
Saborio came to Real Salt Lake with a solid reputation and high expectations. Although the team remained relatively low-key about the acquisition, his arrival brought with it a ton of optimism within the organization. That was perhaps tempered by a couple of recent high-profile failures at attempts to bring in international strikers, with Kenny Deuchar in 2008, and Luis Miguel Escalada in 2009.
But right from the beginning, everyone felt that this one would be different.
“With Alvaro, if for no other reason that we have learned from our mistakes, I’m pretty comfortable telling you that he’s the right fit,” club general manager Garth Lagerwey said.
It appears Lagerwey was right, as Saborio already has logged four goals and two assists for the season in six starts. He also appears to have secured a starting spot based on his recent performance, as he has started the last five matches after starting the season in a rotation with the rest of the RSL starters.
This could turn into an outstanding season for the striker. However, Kreis doesn’t think he has hit his full stride just yet.
“I think he’s close, but I think that he’s still got a little bit more in him," the coach said. "Having said that, that’s no knock because he is playing fantastically well, but I think he can do even a little bit more.”