Real Salt Lake’s Joao Plata apologizes after incident on Ecuador duty

Joao Plata - Real Salt Lake - Shoots

Joao Plata has issued a public apology after being disciplined by the Ecuador national team’s leadership after a curfew-breaking incident along with four of his teammates during the recently-completed international window.

According to the Ecuadorian federation, the Real Salt Lake winger was part of a group – also including Enner Valencia, Gabriel Cortez, Robert Arboleda and John Cifuente – that left the team’s hotel without permission between midnight and 3 am local time on the night of Oct. 6 during the team’s preparations for a World Cup qualifier vs. Argentina on Tuesday.

Documenting the details of the broken curfew on their website, the federation elected to suspend the players indefinitely and thus “set a very severe precedent for future call-ups.”

La Tri, who had already been eliminated from World Cup qualification, lost 3-1 to Lionel Messi & Co. on home soil as Argentina booked their spot at Russia 2018.

After a strong start to CONMEBOL qualifying, Ecuador finished the cycle on a six-game losing skid and finished eighth out of South America’s 10 nations. Plata did not appear in the loss to Argentina or the loss at Chile on Oct. 5.

After returning to Salt Lake earlier in the week, Plata took to Twitter on Friday to issue a profuse apology for his actions and pledge to “strive twice as hard as before” to earn a future opportunity to represent his country, which he called a lifelong dream.

October 13, 2017

“It is difficult to have to write about what happened,” he stated in the tweet. “But when I make my good and bad decisions, I face it. I always dreamed of wearing the jersey of the national team, I have been working a long time at my club to have this indescribable opportunity. Now I have not only failed the team but also my family who, like me, reacted to this first call-up with excitement and pride.

“I was wrong, and it is not product of my age; I decided at age 15 that football would be my life, and since then I have been making every effort to help my family. I respect the decision of the FEF.”

Though it’s unclear when or if Plata will be considered for La Tri duty in the future by current coach Jorge Celico or his successors, the RSL winger vowed to do his utmost to make it happen.

“I will strive twice as hard as before, I will improve as a professional and as a person,” he wrote. “My dream of the national team does not end here. Again I reiterate my sincere public apologies, to my family, friends, to the fans in general and especially to the national team.”

RSL head coach Mike Petke was noncommittal about the matter when speaking to the Salt Lake Tribune on Friday.

“To me, that is not corroborated yet,” Petke said of Plata’s reported suspension. “I don’t go on leaks. I don’t go on rumors or anything like that. It’s good to have Joao back. I had a good conversation with him. We’re going to see where he’s at, and then anything further that will be in-house with the player and I, and the front office and I.”