2013 Player Profiles (#4): Alvaro Saborio leads scoring despite limited minutes

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Alvaro Saborio is without a doubt RSL's most versatile, talented, and seasoned forward. That isn't to say that other forwards on the squad do not have the potential to be great, but it is nearly impossible to argue that Saborio is not currently the best goal-scorer on the roster.

Since Sabo arrived in Salt Lake City four seasons ago, he has scored at least 11 goals each year. He is a consistent performer when healthy and you can tell that the team looks to him as a valuable target. Not only is he a stalwart player for Real, he is also a consistent call-up for the Costa Rican National Team. All of this speaks to his qualify.

The best way to evaluate Saborio's season is to look at his highlights over the course of 2013. He started the season well and got into a nice groove putting the ball in the back of the net. I think his best goal of the year was a header that was placed perfectly past Donovan Ricketts in Open Cup play on August 7th. It was executed beautifully and perfectly placed to make Ricketts look silly. That goal alone shows just how good Sabo is with headers, 2013 not being an exception.

Saborio's best performance of the year was his hat trick against the Red Bulls. His second best goal, by the way, was his third goal on that day. He brought RSL back from a two goal deficit and embarrassed the New York defense along the way. Sabo is capable of roughly a hat trick per year. That in and of itself demands respect.

Saborio led MLS for much of the season in goals per match played and goals per 90 minutes played at roughly a goal every 90 minutes. I explored this subject earlier so no need to hash it out again, but that statistic comparable to the best players in the world.

12 goals and two assists in a season speaks volumes. The end to Sabo's season, however, was uniquely bittersweet. He scored the lone regulation goal for RSL in MLS Cup. Being able to score in big games is very valuablea and the best of the best are the ones that do that. The PK shootout was a different story though. Sabo got RSL off on the wrong foot by missing the goal completely essentially giving KC a head start. The casual observer asks how a professional misses the goal from that close. Of course there is more to it than that, but it is a fair question.

All that said, Saborio is invaluable to this club and I don't see him losing a step in 2014. My prediction is he keeps pace with previous seasons and that a bit of weight is lifted from his shoulders with the improvement of other forwards to his side. If the focus is shifted away from him even slightly, he will have more breathing room to create and thrive.


Editor's note: This is part of a series of player profiles recapping the 2013 season and previewing the 2014 season. Player ratings were compiled via a vote by RSL Soapbox writers. Statistics are via mlssoccer.com.

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