SANDY, Utah — Style-wise, Álvaro Saborío and Joao Plata couldn't be more dissimilar. The former is 6 feet tall and one of the best players in MLS at scoring with his head. The latter is 5-foot-2 and would have trouble winning a header against most eighth-graders.
But so far, their chemistry on the field has been excellent for Real Salt Lake this season, continuing this past weekend. Plata served up the assist for Saborío's 80th-minute equalizer in RSL's 1-1 draw against Colorado on Saturday.
"Plata had the ball and I called for it," Saborío explained to MLSsoccer.com postgame. "He saw me and got me the ball on the right side and I was able to score the goal. It was a good play by him."
The diminutive Ecuadorian has come on as a 20- to 30-minute substitute in all three of RSL's matches so far this season, spelling starter Robbie Findley, but he has definitely made his presence felt during his 73 minutes of playing time.
“So far, so good," head coach Jason Kreis said in his postgame press conference after Saturday's draw. "Plata has two passes showing two goals for Sabo in the first three games and that’s obviously a very good thing. I think in all three of the matches, Plata has come on and given us a little bit of energy and a little bit of a different look. He’s been a pretty dangerous player, so I’m pleased.”
That's a fairly positive endorsement from Kreis, who as recently as two weeks ago was calling the newly acquired striker out for a lack of fitness and has put Plata through rigorous extra fitness drills nearly every day at training. That extra work seems to be paying off, and just in time — he'll likely get more playing time in the next couple of games as Saborío is away with the Costa Rican national team.
The big striker will miss RSL's game at FC Dallas this coming Saturday and his availability may be limited for the Claret-and-Cobalt's next game, March 30 against Seattle at Rio Tinto Stadium. Regardless, it's a good sign for the team to see the forwards building a bond up top.
"I feel really good with him like I do with Robbie as well," said Saborío. "We are starting to get better with each other and it will just get better with more time together, in training and in games. Plata and I have had some good plays together so far and I think we can have more good plays during the season."