With apologies to Alvaro Saborio and all of Real Salt Lake’s other hard working attacking players, the one who has made the biggest difference this season is Joao Plata. Despite carrying a diminutive 5-foot-2-inch frame to go with about 135 pounds of soaking wet armor, a lack of size matters none to the Ecuadorian, who is enjoying his best season yet as a professional.
His five goals are tied for best on the team with Saborio. What makes that number of goals even more remarkable is that he’s scored that many in just six games this season. Yet, it’s the little things -- the things you rarely read about -- that make Plata the claret and cobalt’s most dangerous player.
The 49th pick of Toronto FC in the 2011 Major League Soccer SuperDraft, Plata never caught on fully at TFC, and in 2013 was traded to Real Salt Lake. In 29 games last season, he scored four goals in 29 games -- but what he has brought to RSL is that greasy speed for which he’s known and a tenacity and work rate that the team has been missing since it traded Fabian Espindola to New York.
Here are five reasons why Plata is taking Real Salt Lake to another level.