Real Salt Lake forward Joao Plata took home the first Etihad Airways MLS Player of the Month award on Thursday, netting 38.54 percent of the vote to win the March honor.
Plata has scored three of RSL’s six goals and assisted on two more to help the Claret-and-Cobalt to a 1-0-2 start to the season. The 24-year-old notched a brace in RSL’s season-opening 2-2 draw at Orlando, assisted on both goals in their 2-1 home win against the Seattle Sounders on March 12 and recorded another goal in Salt Lake’s 2-2 draw at Portland on March 19.
The Ecuadorian won the award by a comfortable margin, beating second-place finisher Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake (22.82 percent) by nearly 16 percentage points. Montreal Impact attacker Ignacio Piatti (18.35 percent) finished third, FC Dallas midfielder Mauro Diaz (10.34 percent) placed fourth and Houston Dynamo forward Will Bruin (9.94 percent) rounded out the top-five.
The five Etihad Airways Player of the Month finalists are selected at the end of each month by the MLSsoccer.com editorial staff. The winner is then determined by a fan vote.
Plata and Real Salt Lake will return to action on Saturday, when they’ll face Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park (8:30 pm ET; MLS LIVE).