Sandy • Alvaro Saborio leaped into the air, flicked the ball of his head, and then made his way to corner flag to celebrate his 10th goal of the year.
His Real Salt Lake teammates Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando cheered on the striker as he scored RSL’s fourth goal of Friday’s game, a set-piece strike that put the game out of the reach of the visiting Portland Timbers.
But don’t expect Beckerman and Rimando to be too happy if Saborio scores next week.
While the rest of the team has next week off, Beckerman and Rimando (United States), Saborio (Costa Rica) and defender Abdoulie Mansally (Gambia) have all been called up to their national teams for World Cup qualifiers.
The U.S. sits atop its group with 13 points, on the verge of qualifying for Brazil thanks to a three-game sweep of its qualifiers earlier this summer.
But lurking just behind with 11 points is Costa Rica and Saborio.
“I know he’ll be one of the guys we’ll be focusing on defending,” Beckerman said of his teammate-turned-opponent. “I’m sure our coaches were watching the game tonight. Hopefully, he got his goals out tonight and saves them for Seattle.”
The United States plays in front of a hostile crowd in the National Stadium in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Friday night, before traveling to Columbus, Ohio, to host Mexico.
RSL was hit hard by call-ups in July, when Saborio, Beckerman, Rimando and defender Tony Beltran missed nearly the entire month for Gold Cup. But with Salt Lake off until a Sept. 13 match in Seattle, none of the four players is expected to miss a league game because of national-team play.
U.S. at Costa Rica
P Friday, 8 p.m.
TV • beIN Sport