Joao Plata is off to a red-hot start this season, and he is hoping that he can keep it going and earn a spot on the Ecuadorian national team for this summer's Copa America Centenario.
Real Salt Lake remain the only undefeated team in MLS through the first month-and-a-half of the 2016 campaign, and a big reason for that is the play of Plata. The RSL winger has scored four goals and assisted on three others in five games, and was recently named March's Etihad Airways MLS Player of the Month.
Plata's good run of form has Real Salt Lake in a good position in the Western Conference, but it also has him dreaming of making a return to the international level with Ecuador in this summer's Copa America. Plata has two goals in four career senior national team appearances, but hasn't played with Ecuador since 2014.
"Like any soccer player, my main desire is to be with the national team," Plata told FutbolMLS.com's Tiro Libre podcast. "I haven't been called up since head coach Gustavo [Quintero] took over, but I always try to play well, score goals, deliver assists, and help my club win so that in any moment I can contribute if I am called in.
"I haven't had any conversations with the staff, but a call-up is always welcome."
If the 24-year-old Plata were to be summoned by Ecuador for the upcoming tournament in the United States, he would be tasked with helping the South American nation advance out of a group that consists of Brazil, Peru, and Haiti. Ecuador have not reached the knockout phase of a Copa America since 1997, and are eager to put an end to that streak.
Plata would like to help them do that, of course, but for now is simply focusing on continuing to do well with Real Salt Lake while staying as humble as possible.
"The only thing I do is work, work, and work so that I can always be ready for games," said Plata. "I try to keep my feet on the ground, and let other people talk about Joao being in a good moment."