Saturday night's controversial penalty by Real Salt Lake striker Alvaro Saborio against visitors San Jose Earthquakes yet again brings the spotlight to one of Real's most talented, and enigmatic, players.---
In a collision with a defender, Saborio fell before the goalmouth -- taking a dive, according to some pundits. The result was the expulsion of the San Jose defender and a penalty awarded to Real. Saborio scored two goals, leading a 4-0 crush of the one-man-down Earthquakes.
I tried to interview the Costa Rican star for a CW cover story this week on soccer and immigration. Saborio politely declined to be interviewed about his past, which was a shame, since he is a player who always draws controversy, whether it is missing two penalty kicks for Costa Rica in the recent Gold Cup or storming off the field straight to the locker room rather than the bench after being substituted out by coach Jason Kreis.
Much like many other of Real's players, "Sabo" came to Real after "he had had a little bit of a down spill in his career," Kreis told me when I was researching my cover last month. "He was really hungry to prove himself in his career."
Saborio rewarded Kreis by being voted Best Newcomer to Major League Soccer last year, and was also Real's top scorer in 2010.
Getting him to trust you isn't easy. Saborio told Kreis when he first met him, "I trust no one." That's a mantra that Kreis understands. "Year after year of trying to make inroads, you're promised and told things that don't happen, you feel just like a piece of meat, whom everybody is out there to pound."
Sabo has played for Swiss and British teams. Word has it that in Switzerland and the U.K., he was less than pleased by media inquiries into his past.
Whatever the reason for his silence, Real's goal scoring genius remains an exciting, if enigmatic, player, both on and off the field.