SALT LAKE CITY — Real Salt Lake forward Alvaro Saborio missed Saturday's game against Columbus after he was suspended by the league for diving against San Jose last week. He scored the ensuing penalty kick and added another goal to help RSL secure the 4-0 win.
That Saborio was suspended wasn't a shocker — the league has declared it's intention to eliminate diving from the MLS. What was a surprise, though, was the timing of the punishment.
The call from the league came on Friday afternoon just before 1 p.m., right after the team's morning practice and the coaches meeting where the lineup had been set and final game preparations finished.
"As a coach you have a week in between games to prepare and spend time making sure the right guys are working together," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "To come in at the last minute and tell us, 'By the way, Sabo's not going to play,' that's not good enough in my opinion. That's not good enough from the league and it's disrespectful to coaches."
Saborio's replacement, Jean Alexandre, had three quality opportunities to score, but he came up empty each time.
"Jean got himself into some good spots but wasn't able to put the finishing touches on them," Kreis said. "If he scores those we're probably having a different conversation right now. I think he gave everything he had and did well to get in those spots. He just lacked a little bit of quality to make the difference for us. That's the life of a forward."
More about Saborio's suspension: According to a release from Major League Soccer, "Saborio fell in a deliberate attempt to deceive the officials and gain an unfair advantage.
The subsequent foul and penalty kick goal had a direct impact on the match and will impact San Jose's next match because San Jose defender Bobby Burling was issued a red card on the play."
LATE SUBSTITUTES: Collen Warner, Arturo Alvarez and Luis Gil entered the game for RSL midway through the second half, and the team saw an immediate change in pace. Would earlier substitutions — at halftime, perhaps — have been enough for RSL to get on the board or even tie the game?
"When you get into halftime and you're down two to nil, you have to consider whether or not there needs to be a couple of changes," Kreis said. "The easier way is to make the change right then, but for me I was more interested to see what that group could do and how they would respond in that difficult circumstance after we had a chance to settle them down at halftime."
BATTLE OF THE HAIR: It's not every day that RSL's Kyle Beckerman has a competitor for the game's most outlandish hair. With his signature dreadlocks, the RSL captain generally commands attention with both his style and superlative play. On Saturday, though, Columbus' Tommy "Teen Wolf" Heinemann — no joke, that's his nickname — gave Beckerman a run for his money. The forward sports a Afro of curly brown hair that's accompanied by a thick beard.
Neither player's hair, however, seemed to inhibit his performance — Heinemann scored the Crew's second goal and Beckerman was one of RSL's only bright spots in the loss.