Plata was selected 49th in the 2011 draft by Toronto. That year he made 26 appearances and had 3 goals and 5 assists. Things looked fairly bright for the small forward, but in 2012 after 10 games he was sent on loan to Ecuadoran team LDU Quito for the remainder of the year.
RSL acquired Plata in Jan. 2013 from Toronto for a second round draft pick in 2015. In Joao we could see parallels with Fabian Espindola's work rate and willingness to challenge defenders. It was hoped he would certainly do better than our former 3rd choice striker, Paulo Jr.
In the first game of 2013 vs San Jose, Plata was subbed on and became the game-changer registering a fantastic assist to Alvaro Saborio in the '71st to open the scoring, and nearly making it 3-0 in the closing minute off a breakaway. His first goal for RSL came vs Chivas on May 19th in the '48th from a Kyle Beckerman deflection.
Arguably, Plata's best game for RSL came in the 4-2 win vs Portland on Aug. 30th where he registered 2 assists and a goal. His 2nd assist was for Morales' memorable bicycle kick Goal of the Week.
2014 could be another great year for Joao Plata as Sabo will be out with the Costa Rico National team for the World Cup. He had excellent synergy with both Saborio and Sandoval during '12; if he can improve his teamwork with Findley as well he will prove to be a serious threat.
RSL Soapbox writers say:
Matt Montgomery: Plata is an exciting little guy, but he's clearly still growing in his game. Four goals through the season may be a bit low, but eight assists speaks well to his contribution. 2014 should see Plata racking up goals a bit more consistently -- it's certainly the next stage of his development. What's most notable is the stability he's found at Real Salt Lake, which, as Kreg points out, was lacking at Toronto.
Editor's note: This is part of a series of player profiles recapping the 2013 season and previewing the 2014 season. Player ratings were compiled via a vote by RSL Soapbox writers. Statistics are via mlssoccer.com.