A Big Question: Is it time to move on from Joao Plata?
At times, Plata is an absolute delight. He's a tricky 1v1 player, an inventive passer and a clever finisher diving in from the wing. He has something close to Best XI talent, and his career numbers – 48g/48a in 14,000 minutes – are very good. He's been in Utah for a while and is a fixture in the club.
He's also about to turn 27 years old and has probably hit his peak as a player, at least in Sandy. Plata has put together more or less the same year each of the last three seasons: Play incredible soccer in midsummer, then coast the rest of the way.
- July 14-Sept 1 (9 games): 5g, 5a
- Rest of the year (16 games): 3g, 3a
- July 4-Aug 26 (8 games): 5g, 2a
- Rest of the year (21 games): 2g, 3a
- July 22-Sept 7 (8 games): 4g, 5a
- Rest of the year (22 games): 5g, 7a
There is a market for his services, and I suspect that with the right club he can deliver more boxscore production more consistently.
I also suspect that it'd be the best thing for RSL's culture to move him along and open up playing time for Homegrown attackers Bofo Saucedo and Corey Baird, both of whom 1) are best on the wing, 2) showed more than just flashes of quality play in 2018, and 3) are nowhere near their peak. With the right coaching and approach, it's reasonable to expect more from them.
After the past three seasons, the same can't be said of Plata. At this point he is what he is, and it's time to rip the band-aid off.