Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By TYLER GRAY
SANDY, Utah – It didn’t take long for Alvaro Saborio to get comfortable.
Coming off a disappointing Gold Cup result in which Real Salt Lake’s first-ever DP blamed himself for Costa Rica’s early exit, it was unclear how long it would take for Saborio to reintegrate himself into the lineup.
Saborio put any of those doubts to rest when he scored a hat trick in a losing effort against the New York Red Bulls Saturday night. The Costa Rican first converted a penalty kick in the 45th minute, curled one off the hand of Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles in the 80th minute and then dazzled the crowd with a beautiful hesitation strike into the upper 90 just two minutes later.
Saborio earned SBI and league Player of the Week honors, all while usurping the goal scoring lead for his club with seven goals in nine matches played. RSL is hopeful that the remaining three players returning from Gold Cup duty can have a similar effect upon their return.
Here are some more notes from this week’s training:
USMNT TRIO SET FOR RETURN TO SALT LAKE CITY
RSL’s defense has been a game of musical chairs lately with injuries and national team call-ups, but with the return of the U.S. Men’s National Team contingent, the lineup can begin to stabilize.
Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando and Tony Beltran will all return to Salt Lake City on Thursday, after they make a short detour to Kansas City where they will participate in the MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday night.
RSL head coach Jason Kreis is still wary of his players getting injured however and hopes that Sporting Kansas City and MLS All-Stars head coach Peter Vermes will take care of the RSL trio at Sporting Park.
“Pete’s a pretty busy guy and I think he gets it,” Kreis said after training on Wednesday. “I don’t know that I need to tell him that I don’t want my players to play, or that I want them to play as little as possible. Hopefully he gets that message and understands it.”
It’s hard to blame Kreis for his worries, as he is on the cusp of having the healthiest team he’s had this season. After the injury to then-RSL defender Jamison Olave in the 2011 MLS All-Star Game, it’s understandable for Kreis to feel apprehensive.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN CUP WITH SOME EXTRA ZEST
The conclusion of the Rocky Mountain Cup will take place this Saturday when RSL travels to Commerce City, Colorado to play the third and final match of their season series against the Colorado Rapids.
The cup that RSL has retained for six years will be on the line after the teams split the first two games this season, but with the Rapids’ recent rise in the standings, Kreis believes that his squad are in for an even bigger challenge than originally anticipated.
“I think it’s huge,” Kreis said about the matchup. “I think it’s interesting because really every match we’ve played in the past several weeks has been gigantic. One versus two in our conference, one versus two outside of our conference, a huge match against a New York team that had several of our players on it and now again, one versus two in our conference.”
Amazingly, since RSL defender Nat Borchers joined the team in 2008, RSL hasn’t won a single game in the state of Colorado, going 0-4-3 in the process. It’s going to take an exceptional effort from the squad to not only keep the Rocky Mountain Cup in Utah for another year, but to end the winless streak in the Centennial State.
“We’ve never really put in good performances at Colorado for 90 minutes,” Borchers said. “That’s a big challenge for us. I don’t think we’ve won there since I’ve been on the team in 2008. I think that this is a year of firsts. We got our first win in Canada, first win in Texas, let’s get our first win in Colorado.”
RIO TINTO STADIUM OR JELD-WEN FIELD TO HOST U.S. OPEN CUP FINAL
The winner of August 7th’s semifinal U.S. Open Cup match between RSL and the Portland Timbers will now host the final of the tournament’s 100th anniversary.
A coin flip to decide the host took place yesterday at the U.S. Soccer Federation’s headquarters in Chicago. If RSL wins, the final will take place October 1st at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL has already hosted each of their prior three U.S. Open Cup matches this year.
RSL won’t have to leave the friendly confines of the “RioT” in order to become 2013 Open Cup Champions should they get past the Timbers. The winner of the Timbers vs. RSL match will play the winner of D.C. United vs. Chicago Fire in the U.S. Open Cup final.
What do you think of these notes? Do you see Saborio continuing his goalscoring this weekend? Do you see Beckerman/Rimando/Beltran leading their side to a victory over the Rapids?
Share your thoughts below.