REAL SALT LAKE ACQUIRES RIGHTS TO FW Álvaro SaborÍO THROUGH 2014
2010 MLS Newcomer of the Year Becomes First “Designated Player” in Club History as Costa Rican Striker Acquired from FC Sion (Switzerland)
SANDY, Utah / NEW YORK (Wednesday, December 1, 2010) – Real Salt Lake General Manager Garth Lagerwey today announced that the club has purchased the contract of Costa Rican forward Álvaro Saborío, upon expiration of his loan from Swiss club FC Sion. Today’s transaction ensures that 2009 MLS Cup Champion Real Salt Lake retains rights to its leading 2010 scorer through the end of the 2014 season. Due to fees associated with Saborio’s acquisition, he becomes RSL’s first-ever “Designated Player” under Major League Soccer’s roster and salary compliance guidelines.
“First and foremost, I must express the deepest gratitude to Real Salt Lake ownership for stepping up and making the moves necessary to keep this team together,” said Lagerwey, who saw RSL finish with a club-record 56 points in 2010, finishing second in the MLS Supporters Shield race. “We are delighted that Álvaro has made a long-term commitment to Real Salt Lake, and we hope this signing contributes to our future success. Our attendance has steadily increased since we moved into Rio Tinto Stadium and that increased fan support is one of the primary reasons we as an organization were able to make this happen. As our franchise continues to grow we will continue to plow resources back into the team to give us the best chance to win. Without their fervent dedication to our sport and our stadium in this community, we would be unable to make the Team the Star it has become locally, nationally and regionally.”
Just three weeks ago, Saborio was named the League’s 2010 Newcomer of the Year, as voted on by his fellow players, coaches, general managers, and media. The 28-year-old Saborío beat out two New York Red Bull players – MF Joel Lindpere and FW Thierry Henry – to become the fourth player to earn the award since the League first introduced the honor in 2007.
“I am very pleased for my client to plan his long-term future in Utah,” said Horacio Patanian, Saborio’s representative. “Real Salt Lake was always very interested in Saborio and respectful of the process. When we met with Garth and Jason Kreis, we knew the defending MLS champions were the best thing for Sabo after his time in Bristol City. For him to move to a club competing in CONCACAF and one so dedicated to international success has been an excellent great situation for Sabo. Garth Lagerwey has been outstanding to deal with, and I am very comfortable with the manner in which he and the club have handled the player’s interests.”
Saborío resoundingly answered the question of who would pick up departed striker Yura Movsisyan’s scoring slack in 2010, leading Real Salt Lake in scoring in both League play (12 goals – 8th on MLS Golden Boot chart) and during its maiden appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League (6 goals – T-2nd in the 2010 portion of the competition). His introduction to the Claret-and-Cobalt faithful at Rio Tinto Stadium was a dramatic one, as he came off the bench to head home the equalizing goal in the 94th minute against Seattle Sounders FC on April 10, punctuating the squad’s Championship celebration evening and keeping alive what would eventually become the longest home unbeaten run in League history.
While Saborio’s scoring total was prolific, his goals were also clutch, as the Costa Rican international tallied five match-winners and ended the regular season with a flourish, his double in stoppage time on the season’s final weekend at Colorado single-handedly allowing RSL to capture the Rocky Mountain Cup for a fourth consecutive season via the 2-2 draw, extending the club’s team-record 14-match undefeated run in League play. While MLS competition is the focus for all awards, factoring in RSL’s 2010/11 CONCACAF success brings Saborío’s totals to 18 goals in 29 games – the scoring haul equal to MVP candidate and MLS Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski of San Jose during the MLS regular season. The Costa Rican international was thrice recognized by MLS during his first year in the League, earning two Player of the Week awards (Week 8 and Week 14) and the title of MLS Player of the Month for May.
Saborío is the first member of Real Salt Lake to capture the Newcomer of the Year honor from MLS, and was one of two RSL players to capture a League award this season, joining Defender of the Year honoree Jamison Olave. Real Salt Lake became the first-ever MLS team – and just the second non-Mexican club – to win a CONCACAF Champions League group, posting a 4-1-1 mark in round-robin games with Cruz Azul (Mexico), Toronto FC (Canada) and Arabe Unido (Panama).
Considered one of the CONCACAF region’s top forwards, the 28-year-old Saborío joined RSL last March with a wealth of club experience both in his native Costa Rica and in Europe. After cutting his teeth in the youth system of Mexican side Tigres, Saborío returned to Costa Rica and starred for powerhouse Club Deportivo Saprissa from 2001-06, averaging nearly two goals every three games (95 goals in 149 games) while helping “los Morados” to back-to-back CONCACAF Champions League finals appearances in 2004 and 2005, the latter in which Saprissa defeated Mexico’s U.N.A.M. Pumas 3-2 on aggregate for the side’s third regional title. In the 2005 FIFA Club World Cup, “Sabo” was the prestigious competition’s leading scorer, with two goals, joining Liverpool striker Peter Crouch and two other players.
Saborío would make the jump to European football after signing with FC Sion, where he scored 36 goals in 87 appearances from 2006-09. In the fall of 2009, Saborío joined English Coca-Cola Championship (second division) squad Bristol City on loan for the beginning of its 2009/10 campaign, netting twice in 21 appearances before making the jump to the MLS ranks.
Saborío has been equally impressive for his country, representing Costa Rica on the senior level 57 times and scoring 22 goals. Saborío helped Costa Rica qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Finals in Germany, where he made a pair of appearances off the bench in group play. American fans will recognize Saborío from the 2009 CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier against the United States on June 3, when his left-footed blast just 79 seconds into the match spurred the “Ticos” on to a 3-1 victory at his old club stomping grounds of the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa in San Jose.
The worldly Saborío saw no problem communicating with his RSL teammates, as “Sabo” speaks five languages fluently – English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Mekatelyu – a Limonese Creole dialect spoken in Costa Rica.