Saturday, June 30, 2012
Saying goodbye (for now) to Joao Plata
Well the news became official that fan favourite Joao Plata is returning to Ecuador on loan & will not feature again for TFC this season. It's a bittersweet moment for me, & I suspect many of you as well. He was clearly a favourite & Aron Winter's & I still had yet to comprehend how he would fit into Paul Mariner's more conventional tactic arrangement, or if he even could. In addition, it was beoming evident that other teams around MLS were beginning to figure the kid out. Plata is hardly a commonplace soccer player. Only 5'2, him making it to the pros was a case of beating very long odds, let alone play as well as he did last year. Once adjustments had been made by the opposition, namely in playing Plata quite physically, adapting to these challenges were always going to be difficult, especially given his lack of experience.
Still his absence will be keenly felt by Reds fans. Plata, in the short time he graced BMO Field, became one of the most popular & beloved players in the history of Toronto FC. We loved his boundless energy, unceasing work rate & considerable charisma. All this without even mentioning his tangible contributions to the club. His clutch goals in the CCL, including the memorable dagger thru the hearts of FC Dallas which earned advancement into the knockout stages of the competition, as well as his MVP performance in last year's Canadian Championship.
He leaves Toronto behind with many great memories, but in all honesty this is a smart move for him. Young players, especially one with as much upside as Plata, needs constancy & stability in order to properly mature & realize their full potential. TFC has hardly been a bulwark of stability this year & is more likely to find it back in his old stomping ground. So we say adios to Platita & say thanks for all he did for Toronto FC. Hopefully we will get to meet up with him again in the not too distant future.