It took 10 matches and nearly 700 minutes, but Joao Plata returned to goalscoring ways on Saturday against Houston Dynamo.
It was a simple goal he scored — a shot taken from inside the box to the goalkeeper's left — but the build-up was anything but. A pass from Plata across the face of the box to Javier Morales, a sumptuous little chip back to Plata, and a horizontal run drawing three players with him. That's what it took for Plata to get back on the scoresheet.
It's remarkable, really, because Plata is a good natural goalscorer. He places his shots well, and that paid dividends throughout last year. In his minutes this year, it just hasn't worked out quite that well. Plata's shots were either just too late or just too early, or they weren't really placed as well as we know they can be.
And you know, after suffering an injury to start not just the season, but to start the first day of preseason? That's probably to be expected. For any player, confidence can be a tricky thing to come by. For young players, that's probably doubly the case — and before we forget, Plata is just 22 years old. He's not a grizzled veteran of the league, and he's not yet a player that can miss months and come back and score with his first touch. (Thank you, Sabo.)
For now, let's just bask in the fact that Plata is not just back, but that he's back in style. It's good to expect more goalscoring from him, and I'm sure we'll see it, but just letting Plata's confidence build should be the top priority now. After all — he's more than a goalscorer. He's an excellent player in possession, and his final ball can be spectacular. The fact that he has three assists in those nearly 700 minutes should speak to that.