CARSON, Calif. — Alvaro Saborio made his return to Real Salt Lake's lineup and established a club standard for single-season scoring Saturday night.
Saborio scored three goals — including two in a four-minute span early in the first half — to lead a 4-0 rout of Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center.
The Costa Rican international now has 17 goals to break the record of 16 that Jeff Cunningham set in 2006.
Paulo Junior also scored to give Real (16-11-4) its first road win since June 16 — another shutout (3-0) of Chivas USA.
RSL used its third victory in four games to hold second place in the Western Conference by three points over the Seattle Sounders and Los Angeles Galaxy, which faces the Colorado Rapids tonight.
"I don't think there is any time to really relax, at all," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "We need to be gunning for three points in every one of our matches to put ourselves in the best possible position going into playoffs."
Saborio — who sprained his right shoulder Sept. 18 in the CONCACAF Champions League game against Panama's Tauro FC — made his first start against MLS competition since Sept. 1 against Philadelphia.
"He really wanted to play last weekend," Kreis said. "After talking to the doctor Wednesday morning, he felt very confident that Sabo could play. Watching him train, it was pretty clear that he would be ready."
Fabian Espindola played a pivotal role in Saborio's first two goals. While stationed on the right flank, Espindola chipped a pass between Chivas USA's Ante Jazic and Ryan Smith. Javier Morales headed the ball to Saborio, who volleyed it inside the post from two yards in the eighth minute.
Four minutes later, Espindola and Saborio combined to gaive RSL a 2-0 lead. Espindola cut in front of Chivas USA's John Valencia on the right side to intercept goalkeeper Dan Kennedy's clearance.
"That's a mistake that Kennedy probably hasn't made all year," Kreis said, "and probably wouldn't make in the next four games that they play."
Espindola quickly passed to Saborio, who redirected the ball with his left instep from 5 yards into an empty net.
"He was spectacular tonight," Kreis said of Espindola. "When he got the ball, he really made aggressive first touches to go at their backs and get behind them. I thought that was excellent."
Chivas USA (7-16-7) forced RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando to make two acrobatic saves in the first half. In the 18th minute, Rimando had to leap to deflect Miller Bolanos' 14-yard shot across the end line with his right hand.
Then in the 36th minute, Rimando dived and used his right hand to deflect another 14-yard shot from Bolanos away from the base of the right post.
Saborio broke Cunningham's record in the 65th minute after a diving Kennedy used his chest to block Will Johnson's 8-yard shot. The deflection sailed to Saborio, who secured the ball, pivoted and launched an 18-yard shot that struck the underside of the crossbar and ricocheted into the net.
Paulo Junior, who replaced Saborio in the 74th minute, ended the scoring on an 18-yard shot into the upper-right corner of the net.
RSL NOTES: Rimando made six saves for his 11th shutout of the season and the 98th of his career. ... Kenny Mansally made his first appearance since Aug. 21 when he replaced left back Chris Wingert in the 46th minute. Wingert had the wind knocked out of him after taking a ball to the chest in the 34th minute. ... Ned Grabavoy did not travel to California. Grabavoy injured his quadriceps during training last week, and will miss two to four weeks.