24 Under 24: #9 Joao Plata, Real Salt Lake

Joao Plata | Forward | Real Salt Lake | Age: 23

Last Year in 24 Under 24: #7

2015 Stats: Matches played: 16 - Goals: 3 - Assists: 4

Joao Plata full bio and stats

"In MLS," the conventional wisdom goes, "the bigger players have the advantage."

Just go ahead and toss that logic in the trash whenever Plata's on the field. The Ecuadorian international has been one of RSL's best players since his arrival ahead of the 2013 season, and he is one of the highlighted names on Toronto FC's too-long list of ones who got away.

Plata's been better as a second forward in his still-young career, but he has shown enough ability on the wing to make the club still hold out hope that their switch to a 4-3-3 formation will pay dividends.

What the technical staffers say: “Whenever we play Salt Lake, and he’s healthy and in the lineup, we’re always talking about being wary of him – so that tells you something. He’s got the pace to get behind you, the quickness to make plays in the final third.

"He's not just one-dimensional either. I remember him being in certain moments where he has the ability to finish, he has the ability to slow the game down for the guys around him. He's not just a get-out-and-run, 'Wild West' guy."

What Opta Sports says: Joao Plata missed much of this season due to injury, but RSL have scored 1.5 goals per game when he plays, compared to just 0.8 goals per game when he does not. He finished second among player's eligible for this year’s 24 Under 24 with 13 goals scored in 2014.

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