Plata skips practice, days with TFC could be numbered

Joao Plata

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TORONTO – Forward Joao Plata missed training on Tuesday and did not accompany Toronto FC on their trip to play FC Dallas on Wednesday (9 pm ET, TSN in Canada / MLS Live in US), and his days with the club could be all but over.

Earl Cochrane, Toronto FC’s director of team and player operations, said the club hopes to have a loan deal with Plata’s former club Quito of Ecuador in place by the weekend. Plata went public via Twitter with his desire to return to his native country last weekend.

Cochrane also said in a conference call on Wednesday that the club has gone to the league about how to handle the missed training session and trip, which he said put the club in an “awkward spot." He has heard both that Plata already is in Ecuador and that the 20-year-old winger is still in Toronto.

Either way, he won’t play on Wednesday and could be gone altogether in a matter of days.

“The player was absent from training [Tuesday in Toronto] and he was on our travel squad for the Dallas game and the upcoming game in Philadelphia on the weekend,” Cochrane said. “We’re speaking to the league office as to how to best handle this situation. And one of those options could be disciplinary action.”

Cochrane said Toronto have been looking at working about a possible loan deal for about six months to help Plata continue his development and also free up space on the roster to fill an immediate need for this year’s team.

“We are further along the line today than we were Saturday, and we certainly envision a conclusion by the weekend,” Cochrane said about the loan deal.

Plata has appeared in 36 league games since he was drafted 49th overall in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft and scored three goals last season, but he has failed to find the back of the net in 10 league appearances this season. He signed a two-year deal with Toronto FC in January.

Cochrane said that the fact that Plata was with Quito before coming to Toronto complicated things, and so did Plata’s recent announcement via Twitter that he was leaving TFC.

“It just happens to be a club that he was at prior to coming here, the dynamics of that are a little bit different, the communication between that club and him was probably premature,” Cochrane said. “How he handled that in the social media and everything was not the way to deal with it.

“But I don’t think he’s forcing our hand or he’s gone rogue or any of that sort of thing. I just think the dynamics of the situation are different.”