What did our beloved Claret and Cobalt do the evening of March, 10th? They did what they trained for. They did what they most wanted. They did what they are capable of. They “came to score” (The Aggrolites).
Ah, it's that time again: I ought to name a player of the month for July, so this is exactly what I will do. First, though, let's look at our options, make an educated decision, and name a player. Let's have at it.
Let's start from the back. The first in contention, for me, is Kwame Watson-Siriboe, who has made a handful of appearances since joining the club after a trade from Chicago Fire — one in which we sent off a 2014 fourth-round draft pick and we received a young, skillful center back. Kwame started his first RSL match against Seattle and went 90 minutes, in which we managed a 0-0 draw, but he also played 73 minutes in the miserable match against San Jose. Statistically, he's been quite efficient, winning a high percentage of his duels (aerial and otherwise) and leading RSL in passing success. He's been seen in the last six matches we've played, and while he's been part of a defense that collapsed on occasion, the kid has showed very well for himself early in his career here.
In the midfield, I'll nominate Yordany Alvarez, who had an excellent 90 minutes against Colorado (the July match, not the miserable little August one) and looked ever the intelligent midfielder we need when Kyle's out of commission. However, it's hard to name a player a "Player of the Month" on only one performance, and while I'd love to see him more, it's not quite enough to give him this prestigious (or… something…) award.
The rest of the midfield sometimes ticked over the way that is necessary for effective play, but the stop-start nature of it all really hurt us a few times. Javier Morales did reasonably well, and he's starting to show signs that he's back from his long, long layoff. Kyle Beckerman might have been in contention if not for his inadvisable red card against San Jose in that demolition, ruling him out of the running.
Up front, there can be only one. The man, the machine: Alvaro Saborio. In July, he found the back of the net six times — across five matches. For all the love-in heaped on Chris Wondolowski and his goalscoring exploits, Saborio is right there in the discussion. After having a small drought earlier in the season, Saborio's tied for second place in the goalscoring charts with 13. Remarkably, he's only sixth in the league in shots with 61, meaning he's scored with 21 percent of those, which is exactly where Wondolowski has found himself. With a good run in form and a dip from Wondolowski, there's a good chance Saborio could find himself hoisting the Golden Boot at the end of the season. (Do they hoist those? Let's say yes.)
The answer seems pretty clear from my vantage point. Alvaro Saborio suffered in form a bit early in the season, prompting some doubters to call for his head (four games without a goal is apparently four too many for some). When the man is at his best, he's unstoppable. Despite Portland's notoriously bad form, his hat trick against them took some skill and awareness that you don't find in most strikers. His awareness has been top-notch, and after his early season issue with defending set pieces, he's been monstrous at the back when needed.
With Justin Braun coming into the side and challenging, ostensibly, for Saborio's spot, the Costa Rican will be pressured a bit to perform. If it pushes him forward for the Golden Boot and he further seals the all-time leading goalscorer for the club, he may well write his name in the record books. But for now, let's celebrate his July. It was, after all, a very good one.