LEHI — Jason Kreis had a hunch Alvaro Saborio flopped to earn his penalty kick in last Saturday's win over San Jose, but in his postgame press conference, he said he'd reserve judgment until he could see a proper replay.
Once Kreis was able to finally watch a replay, RSL's coach saw the same thing that everyone else did — a dive.
Just a few weeks removed from publicly scolding D.C. United striker Charlie Davies for a similar dive at Rio Tinto Stadium that resulted in an equalizing-penalty kick in stoppage time, Kreis said he'd be a hypocrite if he didn't talk to Saborio.
And true to his word, earlier this week he had a chat with Saborio about his distaste for the theatrics.
"One of the things I hate more than anything else in life is hypocrisy, so I was very vocal about my admonishment of Charlie Davies. I felt like he stole points from us and he stole points from our crowd and our club," said Kreis.
"I had to be clear with Saborio. If he felt there was any embellishment as I did, which he agreed and admitted to, I said it's not something I like."
Kreis said Saborio was quite responsive to the criticism, surprising considering the rift that seemed to develop between player and coach a few weeks ago after Kreis yelled at Saborio for refusing to acknowledge the bench when he was subbed off in the 88th minute against Dallas. Saborio instead walked straight into the locker room.
Even though the team didn't make a big deal about it, Saborio was being disciplined a few days later when he didn't accompany Real Salt Lake to Dallas for a U.S. Open Cup match.
Kreis believes that incident and then the chat about Saborio's dive have actually strengthened the player-coach relationship.
"He's beginning to become more and more comfortable with me," joked Kreis, who said it apparently takes a couple years sometimes.
Theatrics aside, Saborio seems to have rediscovered some of the finishing that eluded him earlier this year, as he's scored five goals in RSL's last four matches. After his penalty kick gave RSL the 1-0 lead against San Jose, he scored a quality second goal by burying a rebounded shot.
"For me, Alvaro has looked like a different player since he's got back from the Gold Cup. For me, his play since he's been back is fantastic," said Kreis, who believes Saborio's commitment to the little things has been just as valuable.
"He hasn't scored in every game, but I tell him and I tell all of you and I do believe this, you don't have to score in every game. I think forwards can do a lot of other things, and (Saturday) he did a lot of things really, really well for this team," said Kreis.2 comments on this story
Prior to finding his groove and scoring in four of the last five, Saborio had gone nine combined league games and Champions League games without scoring.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the MLS Disciplinary Committee had not fined or suspended Saborio for the incident. Davies was fined $1,000 for his dive, and the league issued an ultimatum to the players that it would crack down on future instances.