The never-ending Joao Plata saga seems as though it may have an end on RSL’s side, anyway. After the coming and going of multiple transfer rumors about the 5-foot-2 winger, RSL declined Plata’s option ahead of the 2020 season. Without any whisper of a contract renegotiation, one can assume that Plata won’t be back in Salt Lake next season.
It doesn’t come as much of a surprise, has he initially fell out of favor with then-coach Mike Petke and never really made his way back into the lineup throughout the 2019 season. While he made 17 appearances last year, he only started two of those games and played a total of 305 minutes for the claret and cobalt. That number pales in comparison to his previous seasons — in 2016 and 2017 he played 2,478 minutes and 2,318 minutes respectively. While his playing time dipped in 2018 with only 1,721 minutes, he still played in 25 games with 20 of them coming as starts, scoring eight goals that year.
Only one goal to his name in 2019, it looks as though he’ll be moving on elsewhere even after rumors of a Liga MX move this past summer fell through. He was all but set to move to Atletico San Luis, but it appeared to fall through in the 11th hour even though it had been reported that terms had been agreed to between the clubs and with Plata himself.
Since that deal fell through, Plata only made one start for the remainder of the 2019 campaign, and was used as a late-game sub less than 10 times.
Though once a key cog in the success of Real Salt Lake, if the club ultimately chooses to officially move on from Plata and not announce a contract renegotiation, they’ll have some holes to fill in a once-crowded corps of wingers with the recent departure of both Bofo Saucedo and Brooks Lennon.