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I’m not an expert on Joao Plata, the Ecuadoran forward acquired by RSL from Toronto FC for a one-year loan on Wednesday. I followed him during the Combine a couple of years ago, and was mesmerized seeing him play for TFC for stretches after they drafted him. His stature (5’2”, and blazing speed are a sight to behold). But I haven’t spent a lot of time analyzing his game. Here are some brief thoughts on him:
Not Findley’s Understudy
Some have referred to him as a backup to Robbie Findley as a speed merchant. Although that may be partially true, it would be a mistake to assume that he’s a similar player. Plata likes the ball at his feet, Findley likes to run onto the ball and quickly distribute or shoot.
Both have speed in bunches, but Findley blazes vertically. Plata tries to drift in to space, often taking a wide position. He’s much more Dane Richards than Robbie Findley.
What’s up RSL fans,
This is Cole Grossman. I’ve been asked to write a recap of our recently completed trip to Arizona. Hopefully I can give you guys a glimpse of what preseason life is like.
For those of you who don’t know me (which is probably almost all of you), I am a new player with RSL. I spent the first two years of my career with the Columbus Crew and was picked by Salt Lake in the waiver draft in November. As this is my first preseason with the club, I have been really excited to meet the coaching staff and players and to start adapting to life in Salt Lake. Although it’s only been a few weeks, I’ve been really impressed with the club culture and the team’s chemistry. The returning players have been welcoming and friendly towards all of the new guys. I definitely feel fortunate to be an RSL player.
Courtesy of BigSoccer.com
Last week a tweet from @JoaoPlata10 which has subsequently been deleted, as well as the reputed agent of the diminutive Ecuadoran, seemed to indicate that the player was nearing a transfer (potentially a loan) from Toronto FC to Real Salt Lake. That was followed by comments out of Toronto that characterized the situation as very much up in the air.
However, the appearance of this photo today purportedly from the team bus in Arizona and an article that surfaced yesterday seem to indicate that Plata may find himself in an RSL kit for the 2013 season.
The article indicated that there was “an agreement in principle,” which would indicate that the deal was nearing completion.
In addition, Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis told ESPN700 Sports Radio that they are working on adding a couple of forward signings prior to February 6th which is the FIFA date which will keep Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran, and Alvaro Saborio away from the club’s preseason preparations.
“Before that, hopefully we can add a couple of forwards that we’ve been working on in Irvine,” said Kreis.
It appears that Real Salt Lake is on the verge of signing at least one additional forward. Based on previous comments from the team, it appears likely that player will be a foreign player. So how does RSL identify and recruit foreign players? Well, in many cases it’s about connections.
A number of RSL’s current and former South American players came through a relationship with a league provided scout. That connection yielded Javier Morales, Jamison Olave, Fabian Espindola and even Emiliano Bonfigli.
Another league scout led Garth Lagerwey to Terukazu Tanaka in Japan last season.
We see Montreal active with Italian players. FC Dallas went through a “Brazilian phase”, and New England once had a gaggle of Gambian’s, including current RSL left back Kenny Mansally. The reason for this? Once a connection is made it leads to other connections, and more prospective players.
Each offseason, I like to spend the cold winter nights chasing down leads of transfer targets, and learning about soccer in parts of the world that I’m largely unfamiliar with. It’s a labor of love, and there are many fruitless hours spent on this.
This offseason, I’ve tried to learn as much about Colombian soccer as possible. Thanks to RSL fan ChiquiPelaez and a couple of other RSL fans from Colombia, I’ve become reasonably educated on the basics of Liga Postobon. Chiqui in particular has given me a lot of insight into specific players as you’ll see later.
Garth Lagerwey announced Wednesday night on OnFrame on ESPN700 Sports Radio “I’m hopeful that by the end of the week we’re going to have potentially some announcements at the forward position to make us look better at that position than we were last year.”
When I heard the rumors early in the offseason, I was concerned about the team trading Fabian Espindola for the unknown – a yet to be named striker or strikers. Now that we know that Robbie Findley is one of those players, it gives me much more comfort even though everything points to another fairly accomplished, although currently unidentified foreign striker as a likely addition in the near future. However, Ned Grabavoy lent some insight into the need for the change, and it wasn’t a financial one.
“Fabi’s a great player,” said Grabavoy. “He’s a great talent in this league. When the staff looked at it, they are probably trying to pinpoint some players who are maybe better suited to play off of Saborio, and maybe not so much guys who individually like Fabian who can really break things down off the dribble.” Continue reading