After getting off to his finest season in his Major League Soccer career, Real Salt Lake forward Joao Plata was rewarded for his efforts. The national team in Plata's home country of Ecuador called up the diminutive firebrand on Mon. Aug. 25 for two friendlies.
Both games are against CONMEBOL foes Brazil and Bolivia--and both games will take place in the United States, meaning Plata won't have to rack up as many frequent flier miles. The end goal for Plata obviously is to impress coaches enough with his scoring punch so that he can make the team's Copa America 2015 roster.
Plata is certainly racking up goals. He already has 11 on the year in 18 starts, averaging putting one in the net two-thirds of the time he's on the field. Real Salt Lake will undoubtedly miss the spark Plata provides on offense--but he'll only miss one game against FC Dallas during his stint with Ecuador's national team.
His productivity likely got the attention of an Ecuadorian side that finished fourth overall in CONMEBOL qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. Once the team qualified in Brazil, the Ecuadorians went nowhere, finishing third in a brutal group behind Switzerland and France.
Since that time, Ecuador has hired an interim coach named Sixto Vizuete and he's already shaking things up on the team's roster. Plata is the only American-based player to make Ecuador's roster for its games against Brazil and Bolivia.
These caps will not mark the first time that Plata has seen action in his home country's uniform though. He last played for Ecuador in 2011 in a friendly in Toronto, home to his former MLS club, Toronto FC.