In his fourth year with Real Salt Lake, striker Alvaro Saborio has proven once again that he's a deadly goalscorer — easily one of the best in MLS, up with the likes of Chris Wondolowski, the only player over that time period to have scored more goals than the Costa Rican.
With three goals from three games, there may be doubts about Real Salt Lake's ability to share the goalscoring load, but Saborio's contributions will have Jason Kreis's worries at least somewhat abated. Of course, going into the weekend, he'll be unavailable, as he, like others, is off to international duty. Costa Rica faces the United States on Friday in World Cup Qualifying.
After his 17-goal season in 2012, in which there were strangely greater criticisms from fans leveled at the player than perhaps in previous years, Saborio will be looking to push even further. He finished 10 goals behind the eventual Golden Boot winner, Wondolowski, and one behind then-New York Red Bulls forward Kenny Cooper.
Let's take a look at Saborio's goalscoring compared to his shots taken, as well as to his goals-to-shots on goal rate.
2013: 3/11 — 27% — 3/4 — 75%
2012: 17/87 — 20% — 17/40 — 43%
2011: 11/66 — 17% — 11/24 — 46%
2010: 12/51 — 24% — 55%
Let's compare that now to Chris Wondolowski during the same period.
2013: 1/13 — 8% — 1/4 — 25%
2012: 27/127 — 21% — 27/55 — 49%
2011: 16/109 — 15% — 16/52 — 30%
2010: 18/68 — 26% — 18/36 — 50%
Now, we shouldn't jump too far to conclusions, especially about 2013, as we're only three games in and strikers are notably mercurial. But the first thing that crops up is the remarkable consistency over those four seasons for the players. Obviously enough, this doesn't consider quality of shot or shot distance, though that would an interesting (if difficult to gather) metric. What it does show, though, is that there's not so much difference between these two players in terms of goalscoring ability.
Of course, Wondolowski serves a much more poacher-style role than Saborio, who tends to hold up play more. Does this make Saborio a greater tactical piece than the San Jose talisman? It's difficult to say, but watching Real Salt Lake without Saborio can be a painful endeavor.
As Real Salt Lake will be missing Saborio this weekend, it'll be up to the younger ranks to find the back of the net — Joao Plata and Devon Sandoval, who have both impressed early on, will be vying in these training sessions to partner Robbie Findley from the start, should he get another chance early on in the season.
Sandoval — though a rookie — may be the better option, as he can step into that hold-up play role without too much trouble, but the early form of Plata is unmistakable.