Due to a suspension for diving on a scoring opportunity last week, Real Salt Lake forward Alvaro Saborio will miss the team’s match this weekend against the Columbus Crew.
Although the referee’s ruling on the field was a foul that turned into a penalty kick and a goal, replay showed that it was clearly a dive.
After review, the Major League Soccer Disciplinary Committee fined Saborio $1,000 and suspended him for a match.
While Real Salt Lake fans will miss Saborio and his goal scoring ability, maybe this suspension is exactly what he needs to get things back on track. That will depend largely on the outcome of the game that he misses.
If Real Salt Lake wins, Saborio will get a much needed break without affecting his team greatly. If they do not get a result, his difficult season will continue.
Hopefully for Saborio and for the team they can get a win and put this incident behind them.
Saborio, the teams’ designated player, has had a bit of a rough season thus far.
After winning the MLS Newcomer of the Year Award last season, Saborio struggled to score goals in MLS play until recently. His frustration was visible at the first of the season when he was consistently called for being off-side, and the team struggled to mount an attack.
Saborio left the team to participate in the Gold Cup with Costa Rica, where he scored in the group stage but missed a heartbreaking penalty kick in the quarterfinals. The loss sent his national team home and out of the tournament.
When he returned to Real Salt Lake, it seems that he started to get his form back and began to score goals. His frustration still surfaced, however, and has boiled over during the last several weeks.
In a home match several weeks ago Saborio angrily left the field after being taken out of the game in the closing minutes. His move started a small controversy and he was left home as the team travelled to a U.S. Open Cup match a few days later.
While this most recent situation with the dive and missing a match may only add to his frustration, sitting out will give Saborio a week to relax and get refocused on playing soccer. This could be a good thing for the team going forward.
Real Salt Lake, who finally seems to have overcome the hangover of losing to Monterrey in the CONCACAF finals in April, will need Saborio as they move into the second half of the season.
The team is currently in fifth place in the Western Conference, but are still very much in the hunt for the playoffs, and to win the Supporter’s Shield.
They have more points than every team in the Eastern Conference, and trail the first place Los Angeles Galaxy by nine points. Real Salt Lake has played four fewer matches than the Galaxy.
Not that the team has the choice, but having Saborio miss a match may not be a bad thing. If he can take some time to prepare for the rest of the season, work on his frustrations, and come back stronger, perhaps this latest setback will turn out well.
Real Salt Lake will need to start with a win tonight to make sure that happens.