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2014 RSL Soapbox Awards: Biggest Surprise

Every year, RSL Soapbox hands out seven prestigious awards known as the "RSL Soapbox Awards." This category deals with the biggest surprise

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Kreg Asay: Luke Mulholland. When was the last time a new player joined in the off-season and made such a huge impact? Velasquez in 2012 showed some flashes of brilliance, but little to show for it, Plata's first year with the team was decent but it wasn't until the 2nd half of the season until he passed Findley as the 1st choice striker and only netted 4 times. In his first year with RSL Luke supplanted young veteran Luis Gil as the starter, notched 6 goals and 7 assists and made everyone take notice.

Weston Jenson: Joao Plata. After being discarded by Toronto FC, the diminutive Ecuadorian has since become a mainstay for Real Salt Lake. In his first year with RSL in 2013, the 21 year-old Plata recorded a respectable four goals and eight assists - based on this; I doubt anyone could foresee what he would do in 2014. In 2014, Plata's offensive output has erupted - tallying 13 goals and six assists. There is a saying that goes "Big things come in small packages" and that is exactly what Real Salt Lake got with the talent of Joao Plata.

Matt Montgomery: Joao Plata. It's easy to forget that 2013 was a good but not great year for Joao Plata, and it's easy, too, to forget that he picked up only 32 minutes in playoff action. In 2014, he became an undroppable player, and when he wasn't injured, he was playing - 26 games started, 24 games played. It was about more than just his goalscoring ability, too, although he did score 13 goals to last year's four. He was fitter, more willing to help defensively, smarter, and all around, a revelation.

Randal Serr: Luke Mulholland. It is safe to say that Luke Mulholland took all RSL fans by surprise from the beginning of the season. He debuted extremely well against the Galaxy in L.A. and was unfairly robbed of a goal. That did not slow him down, however. He went on to dish out six goals and seven assists and earned a starting role for the vast majority of the season. That is impressive in and of itself with the consistency this club has shown over the years.