Plata’s two assists lead RSL to win over Whitecaps

JoaoPlata1 - Vancouver (AP)

By TYLER GRAY

Sandy, Utah – Real Salt Lake was hurting for some goals.

Star forward Alvaro Saborio is out with a quadriceps strain. His replacements, Robbie Findley and Olmes Garcia, were both questionable heading into the match, forcing manager Jason Kreis to play two newcomers in Joao Plata and Devon Sandoval up top.

Kreis’ gamble paid off as Plata led RSL to a 2-0 victory over the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium. The 21-year-old Ecuadorian recorded two assists on his way to being named man of the match for the first time this season.

The game started out a little bit choppy with neither side able to find a rhythm on offense.

“I think we struggled at the beginning of the game with our possession,” Kreis remarked after the game. “I was pleased tactically that we had the ball in their half of the field and I thought we made the right tactical choices but we weren’t clean enough with the ball. I felt like we got better and better and better as the game went on.”

There were no clear chances all through the first half with only one shot on target from either side and it was looking like RSL was going to get stuck in a scoreless draw again in front of the 17,480 fans in attendance, many in Star Wars outfits.

Inspiration came from an unlikely source in the 47th minute when RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando took a quick restart and sent a long ball down the right side of the field where towards a running Plata. The diminutive forward was able to settle the ball and loft in a perfect pass in front of the keeper, where midfielder Luis Gil was able to direct a header off the post and into the net.

“It feels good to get into the attack a little bit,” Rimando said. “You hang back there on defense and you only think about that, but you want to help out any way you can and today I was fortunate to play a good ball to Plata.”

It was Rimando’s fourth game-winning assist and seventh overall in his career. It was the second time that he had recorded both an assist and a shutout win in the same match, the last being a 1-0 victory over Seattle in 2009.

Luis Gil suffered a right ankle contusion when he collided with Whitecaps keeper Joe Cannon just after scoring and had to come off in the 54th minute. His replacement Sebastian Velasquez didn’t waste much time in making his presence known and contributed an assist in the buildup to the second goal.

Velasquez squeezed a ball through the Whitecaps defense to Plata who once again slotted the assist to midfielder Javier Morales, finishing past Cannon in the 71st minute to effectively put the game away.

“[I'm] very happy with the assists but the most important thing is the team,” Plata remarked. “Little by little I’m integrating myself with the team and I’m just very grateful for this victory.”

Here are the match highlights:

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10 Responses to Plata’s two assists lead RSL to win over Whitecaps

  1. Neruda says:

    How important is the pre assist assist stat in soccer? Velasquez with excellent through balls on a number of plays. He controls the ball so well with his feet. Gil is just very smart positionaly and his attacking skills are growing.

  2. Aguinaga says:

    Peeps still sleeping on Plata. Is it his size? Is it because he came from a relatively unknown (in the US) system? Kid can play, he showed it in TFC, got the chance and showed it now, good stuff.

  3. peaton says:

    I remember Plata from the Draft camps, and I thought, wow he is like Spud Webb….glad to see he is working out. I like unorthodox players, also Ecuador is producing so many good players.

  4. Chodilicus says:

    Nice RSL performance. Even though Plata did make two nice plays for assists, he actually kind of had a rough game from an attacking perspective. He was really struggling with his touch and passing early. Late in the game he got at least 4 opportunities at goal while being unmarked at the top of the 18 and did not get any of the shots on target.

    With all that said, Plata does add a lot and creates a lot of chances. At this point though, he is not a finisher. In my mind he is not a true forward. He should be a winger in a 3 forward system. He is not a true #10 player or a forward. He is much more quick and explosive than even fast. RSL created so many chances in this game but still struggled mightily with finishing despite scoring twice.

  5. Oog says:

    But, for those two assist he had 20 really bad passes and giveaways. I thought he was playing terrible until he notched those 2 assists. Other than that, it was a pretty bland game from him.