Joao Plata - Real Salt Lake - March 12, 2016
Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake re-sign forward Joao Plata to new, long-term contract

Real Salt Lake announced on Monday that striker Joao Plata has signed a new multi-year contract that keeps him at the heart of the Claret-and-Cobalt attack – and at Designated-Player status – for the long term.

Plata, 24, has twice won the club’s Golden Boot award (in 2014 and 2016) since his arrival via trade from Toronto FC prior to the 2013 season. The dynamic Ecuadorian has totaled 30 goals and 30 assists in regular-season play for RSL, and ranks fifth in goals and third in assists in club history.

“Any time you can make a long-term commitment between the player and the club on such a promising player with so much attacking ability, you never shy away from that opportunity. The timing was perfect to extend,” RSL general manager Craig Waibel said in a club release.

“He’s having a good time with RSL. He continues the mold we’ve created of solidifying a core group of players that can be here for a long time.”

Plata, who has earned four caps with Ecuador since his arrival in MLS, bagged nine goals and 12 assists in 30 appearances (28 starts) last season.

“Ever since I came to Real Salt Lake, I’ve felt at home,” Plata said. “The team, the players, the fans – they all welcomed me and I’m happy to stay here for a long time.”

Salt Lake open their 2017 season on Saturday as Toronto FC visit Rio Tinto Stadium (4:30 pm ET | TSN1/TSN4 in Canada, MLS LIVE in US).