He is on a collision course with others on the team--and with himself. Alvaro Saborio, Real Salt Lake goal poacher extraordinaire from Costa Rica, has been put on notice--whether anyone told him or not.
His contract with the club, a hefty $350,000 per year one at that, expires after next season. His status as the team's top goal scorer ended shortly after he broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot. Before that, body parts of his weren't working as well as RSL brass would hope.
An injury here, a knock there led Saborio to play in only 10 MLS games last year. Then came the latest injury, catastrophic in one sense because it forced RSL to make a decision to bring in another person who plays Saborio's position--and catastrophic in another sense because it meant Saborio couldn't play in the World Cup for his native Costa Rica.
Now the latest word out of RSL training sessions is that the low-key Costa Rican who loves Utah is coming back to reclaim the job he lost--perhaps a bit too early. He's ripping shots like before--but nobody is allowed to tackle him yet, so nobody knows how structurally sound that left foot is.
Saborio was ticketed to make his return to RSL's lineup in October; now a report on Wed. Sept. 3 says it's more likely he'll play in late September.
Even so, RSL head coach Jeff Cassar might be the only one looking out for Saborio--who hired his own personal trainer to help him prepare for the next phase of his pro soccer career. Even if that means Saborio might not be in a Real Salt Lake kit after 2015--at least someone's looking out for the Costa Rican.
“We have to make smart decisions for him — not just for the next couple weeks but for the end of this year (and) going forward,” said Cassar after training on Tuesday.
In one sense, who could blame Saborio? The club just went out and signed Jaime, Saborio's new competition at forward, just a few weeks ago. The Costa Rican is notorious for being a team player--and so far, that hasn't been a problem.
But, Saborio is not only playing to keep his spot at RSL--he's now playing to get noticed by other clubs around the world in case things don't work out as well in the near future.
At age 32, Saborio knows time is running out, and so do his teammates--even if they won't say publicly. He's racing against the clock and now, he's racing against Sebastian Jaime, the 27-year-old Argentine goal poacher RSL just signed--and he's even racing against tiny Joao Plata, the Ecuadorian international doing more (scoring goals, that is) for less.
That is probably great news to RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen--who has never met a cost-effective deal he didn't like. Meanwhile, Saborio is trying to beat beat all of the above back to a time to where his ailing foot feels good enough again to play and produce.
Months after Saborio wrecked that foot during a routine training session in Costa Rica for the national team, he really is back where he started at RSL--on loan from Swiss club FC Sion.
Oh, was Saborio on a tear before his latest injury, scoring six goals in 10 games for RSL before the World Cup break--a number that is still good enough for fourth on the team. After that stretch though, it has only been bad news after more bad news for a guy who has scored 46 goals in the claret and cobalt shirt and given everything he's had to the team, body parts, heart and soul and all.