SANDY — Alvaro Saborio would never admit it publicly, but his coach could sense the fear.
As a former player who once dealt with a serious knee injury, Jason Kreis knows what it's like to try and fully recover from such an injury. Much of Saborio's struggles this year can be attributed to that offseason knee surgery, but after Saturday night's performance his confidence might be all the way back.
The striker, who led RSL with 18 goals over all competitions last year, scored twice to spearhead a 3-1 victory over Toronto FC.
"I didn't see any fear in the way he put himself about in the box tonight, which I had seen a little bit over the first quarter of the season," said Kreis.
Both of Saborio's goals were relatively easy finishes that were made possible by hard work. Kreis said that's a sign that he's coming around.
"He put himself in a lot of really good spots tonight in the penalty box, which is more typical from what we saw last year. He was battling for every ball in there, trying to get to the near post. He nearly got on the end of a couple other ones," said Kreis.
As for Saborio, he was a difficult player to read after the match. Despite his best performance of 2011, Kreis said he wasn't smiling when he walked off the field.
"He's not the easiest of characters to understand and get a feel for," said Kreis, who quickly told Saborio to smile, he'd earned it.
After the match, Saborio denied being frustrated earlier this year.
"I think I work hard, I try to help the team every time. I started to score goals, and I'm happy about that," he said.
If RSL is going to climb back into the MLS Supporter's Shield race, it needs more outings from Saborio like it got against Toronto.
INCREASED MINUTES: Luis Gil, 17, is starting to make an impact for Real Salt Lake.
Coming off his first start of the season last weekend in Philadelphia, and then an 83-minute appearance as a substitute in Chicago on Wednesday, the teenager was handed another start on Saturday — at striker, no less.
Even though he didn't get his name on the score sheet, he made some very positive contributions to the attack despite playing a bit out of position.
"He gave us a little bit of a different dynamic. He's got real good pace, which most people don't know about because he doesn't probably have as many opportunities when he plays in the midfield to display that pace," said Kreis.
His speed helped stretch the defense on multiple occasions against Toronto, and based on another fine performance more playing time should be coming his way.
"I just have to take advantage of the opportunities I get. I'm learning little by little. The more I'm on the field the more confidence I get," said Gil.
BE THE MATCH: Personalities for the TV show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" were at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday encouraging RSL fans to become bone marrow donors to help 7-year-old Jonah Gomez, one of Real Salt Lake's biggest fans, find a donor match.
The TV show is building a new home in South Jordan this week for the Gomez family. Gomez suffers from blood cancer and needs a bone marrow transplant to survive.1 comment on this story
DKMS, the world's largest marrow donor company, was on hand to get a quick cheek swab of potential donors throughout the match. Those who didn't have time to register to become a donor at the stadium can do so at www.getswabbed.org.