Joao Plata scored one of his more interesting goals on Saturday with a tap-in after some incredibly poor defending from Colorado Rapids — but leaving the striker with none of the credit for the goal is probably wrong-headed.
In fact, I'd posit that it was down to some hard work from Plata himself that created the opportunity for error in the first place, and that the root cause was actually RSL-created.
First, take a look at how open Javier Morales is. With Morales missing most of the match as he wasn't 90 minutes fit after suffering a broken rib recently, it was an opportunity to see in stark terms just how important that tendency is to this team. Before Morales' entrance, Luke Mulholland would attempt to build play through passing and movement in a progressive manner toward the opponent's box (with play often falling apart in the process); after, Morales saw opportunities forming at every twist.
Morales has spotted an excellent start to a run from Joao Plata, who is just sort of ghosting behind Marc Burch. He's about to kick that run off.
The big thing to note here is that Joao Plata has not only met the ball as it drops, but that he's in a position that forces the defender to respond. He hasn't just started chasing it; he's instead actively involved in the play at that time, and that leaves each opponent having to respond. First, we can see one center back attempting to read Plata's run, and Zac MacMath has somehow decided to come out extremely far to try to meet him. This indicates a very good pass, as it landed in the zone between goalkeeping and center back responsibilities.
By forcing the defense to respond, Plata has opened up an opportunity for himself. If the defense was simply able to settle the ball and play it forward, this goal wouldn't have come into being.
This shows how aware Plata is of the opportunity emerging. In two seconds, after a Colorado defender lofted the ball over his own goalkeeper's head, Plata is running on to the ball. His finish shouldn't be ignored, because it was calm and collected, and it didn't overcomplicate matters at all.
Some might have tried to side-foot the ball into the net; instead, Plata has relied on his good touch to simply guide the ball into the net.
It was a good one, wasn't it?