Alvaro Saborio's return will be crucial in MLS run-in

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Of all the years to suffer a serious season-threatening injury, this wasn't the ideal one for Alvaro Saborio.

On May 29 - two weeks before the start of the FIFA World Cup - the 32-year-old broke his fifth metatarsal in training with Costa Rica and was subsequently ruled out of the tournament.

Costa Rica absence

However, despite the absence of their most potent goal-getter, Los Ticos were the surprise package of the summer. Wins against Uruguay and Italy - plus a draw with England - saw the side qualify for the knock-out stage.

A shoot-out triumph over Greece saw further progress, before they were finally halted by the same method against the Netherlands. Ranked 28th in the world in June, the CONCACAF outfit would have made the semi-finals but for the imperious Dutch goalkeeper Tim Krul.

While Saborio's country may not have missed him, his club Real Salt Lake certainly have.

RSL struggling for goals

Prior to his ill-fated departure for international duty, the Royals were undefeated in 2014, but within a fortnight, the franchise had started a five-game winless run.

Without the former Bristol City forward, a 2.1 goals-per-game average dropped to just 1.2. No team in Major League Soccer's Western Conference play-off places has hit the net on fewer occasions.

Joao Plata has enjoyed a breakout campaign and leads the Claret and Cobalt in notches, but Saborio has bettered his tally of 11 in each of his four outings in the United States.

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Crucial return

Therefore, his return in a clash with title rivals FC Dallas on Saturday night was a welcome one - even more so when he grabbed the winner just seconds after emerging from the bench.

The Costa Rican's teammates were certainly glad to have him back, with creator Javier Morales revealing: "When he came in, I went to do the corner kick. It was on my mind, you know - that guy is going to score now."

Fellow frontman Robbie Findley added: "I’ve never seen anything like that. It’s definitely good for him and his confidence coming back from his injury as well."


Regardless of those comments, it's unlikely that Saborio has suffered from any issues with confidence, given that he can boast a record of 63 strikes in 118 league matches on American shores.

Now, he will be as determined as any other player to end Real's five-year wait for silverware, particularly having missed from the spot after last year's MLS Cup final ended all square. It was the seven-goal striker's inspired spring form that has made success a possibility in 2014, and few would bet against him finishing the job.

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Alvaro Saborio
Real Salt Lake

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