SANDY (ABC 4 Sports) – Real Salt Lake FW Álvaro Saborío was voted Major League Soccer Player of the Week by the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) for Week 18 of the 2012 MLS season. Saborío scored three second-half goals in the span of 15 minutes to give RSL a 3-0 victory over the Portland Timbers at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Saborío broke the deadlock in the 60th minute when he rose above Portland defender Futty Danso to beautifully head a MF Kyle Beckerman ball across the face of goal and inside the far post.
Saborío put RSL up 2-0 less than two minutes after his first strike, beating Timbers left back Steven Smith to a sublime, curling cross from DF Chris Wingert before nodding the bouncing ball home from 10 yards out. The Costa Rican international had to wait just a little bit longer to complete his hat trick, but complete it he did; coolly burying a 75th minute penalty kick given after Timbers midfielder Diego Chara was ejected for handling a Saborío header that was ticketed for the back of the net.
The three-goal performance was Saborío’s third multiple-goal game of the season and moved him into third place in the MLS Golden Boot standings with 10 goals in 20 games played. The hat trick was Saborío’s first in a RSL uniform and just the third in club history, with current RSL head coach Jason Kreis scoring three goals in a 2005 U.S. Open Cup match and former RSL FW Robbie Findley tallying three times in the 2009 home opener. Saborío’s performance vaulted him into the club’s all-time goal-scoring lead with 33 career regular season goals in 70 games, moving him past strike partner Fabian Espindola, who has 32 goals in 112 MLS regular season matches. Saborío now has 44 total goals in 80 appearances across all competitions for RSL.
Saborío is the first RSL player to win the Player of the Week honor in 2012. He has now won the award three times in his Real career, having won Player of the Week twice during the 2010 season. Saborío’s win marks the 19th time a Claret-and-Cobalt player has won the weekly award. RSL’s other recipients of the award are: Jeff Cunningham (5), Javier Morales (4), Robbie Findley (2), Pablo Campos (1), Fabian Espíndola (1), Chris Klein (1) and Yura Movsisyan (1).
A limited number of tickets remain for RSL’s Pioneer Day Fireworks celebration and second of three Rocky Mountain Cup games against Colorado Rapids on Sat., July 21 – with an 8:00 p.m. MT kickoff. On Friday, July 27, RSL welcomes yet another Western Conference opponent and its third Cascadia visitor of the month,Vancouver Whitecaps FC, to Rio Tinto Stadium, with kickoff returning to its normal 7:00 p.m. start time.