I thought his effort was spectacular. I thought his effort was unmatched and unparalleled and when he does that he’s an extremely good player. —RSL coach Jason Kreis, on striker Alvaro Saborio

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — That’s the thing about Real Salt Lake striker Alvaro Saborio.

He’s great … when he’s around.

After a two-game playoff absence, due to pulled muscles in his back, the Costa Rican native struck again in Saturday’s MLS Cup final, with a 52nd-minute goal to give Real Salt Lake a 1-0 lead.

However well-timed, his shot was equaled late in regulation when Kansas City’s Aurelien Collin tallied in a 76th-minute score, sending the match into overtime and then a penalty shootout that Kansas City eventually won.

Still, there’s no denying Saborio has been, well, Sabo-rific this year. In 16 regular-season games he netted 12 goals.

Not to mention Saturday’s postseason score.

“I thought his effort was spectacular,” said coach Jason Kreis. “ I thought his effort was unmatched and unparalleled and when he does that he’s an extremely good player.”

Saborio came into Saturday’s match with some concern. Though Kreis noted earlier in the week that his forward would likely play, it wasn’t a done deal until the match started.

Then he got down to work.

Saborio drilled a booming shot from the right side to give RSL the lead. He nearly added a goal in overtime on a header into the net. But the play was nullified on an offside violation.

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Saborio got the first chance of the shootout but his attempt was high. After RSL leveled the shootout on the fifth attempt, it took until the 10th for the matter to be decided on Aurelien Collin’s goal, followed by Lovel Palmer’s miss.

But he looked strong most of the night, despite the layoff.

Said midfielder Kyle Beckerman: “The main thing we need from (Saborio) is the defenses start from those two up top and both Robbie (Findley) and Sabo were excellent, they battled all night. When you get that kind effort up top it helps everyone and you’re able to create chances. We were able to create enough and it just didn’t go our way.”

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