LEHI, Utah – Real Salt Lake are set to tackle another Champions League opponent, as Toronto FC visit Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday. And if there's one RSL player who should be relishing another chance at continental play, it’s Alvaro Saborio.
The Costa Rican international has had a solid season in his first MLS campaign, finding his way often onto the score sheet. He has scored eight goals in his 21 league matches to go along with the four assists that he has notched.
He also puts in a great deal of effort off of the ball, helping his team defensively, and helping link the midfield into the attack with his ability to hold up the ball and thwart pressure coming from the opponent.
But he's been just as lethal, if not more so, in CONCACAF play. Saborío has bagged braces twice in Champions League matches (to match two braces in league play), against Árabe Unido at home, and against Cruz Azul in Mexico City.
MATCH PREVIEW: Real Salt Lake host Toronto FC in CCL on Wednesday
Saborío came to Real Salt Lake an accomplished scorer in the CONCACAF region, perhaps one of the most prolific in recent years. To go along with his 95 goals over a 149-game stretch with Saprissa, he has also racked up 22 goals in 55 matches with the Costa Rican National Team.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that he has put away four goals in his two CCL matches since his arrival. It might be his poise on the ball, or his confident ball striking ability. Maybe it’s his crafty movements away from the ball. Or it could be just his overall goal-scoring knack and international experience that has allowed him to succeed.
Jason Kreis has a different theory.
“I think that he recognizes that as a player from Costa Rica, there are probably a few more opportunities than some of the American players being in Mexico and other places similar to that," said the RSL head coach.
"He’s also played in this tournament before and I think he has used it as a platform to move on to somewhere else, and so I think he probably has a little more motivation than some."