May 7, 2011 MLS--Prolific Plata Paves The Way (from

Prolific Plata Paves The Way
Asif Hossain 
BMO Field 
Toronto, ON - May 7, 2011 

Defining Moment

Joao Plata's first career goal in Major League Soccer paved the way for Toronto FC to earn a 2-1 win over Houston Dynamo Saturday night at BMO Field.

The goal was a long time coming and it broke a deadlock between the Reds and the visitors at the 50th minute. Nick Soolsma made a strong run into the 
area but before he could unleash a left foot shot, the Toronto forward was clipped from behind and referee Jorge Gonzalez pointed to the spot. 
Plata stepped up to take the penalty; the 19-year old rookie buried the ball without hesitation giving Toronto a 1-0 lead on way to maximum points. 
The win takes Toronto up to 10 points from nine games in MLS, snapping a six game league winless streak during which they accumulated four draws. 

Pitch Battles

Although Houston lost its previous outing on Wednesday to Colorado, the team's top player Brad Davis has been red hot this season - already leading MLS 
in assists with six. Toronto had to keep Davis quiet and stay disciplined to limit the left footed Dynamo's abilities on set-piece opportunities. 

To this end Toronto's right sided players, Richard Eckersley, Jacob Peterson and Soolsma were active going forward in the first half, forcing Davis 
and Houston to remain on the back foot. Peterson had a couple of good chances in the match, but at the 34th minute he headed over and then taking a pass 
at the 46th from Plata, the winger had a low volley saved by Tally Hall. Houston midfielders' inability to link up with their strikers was also due to the 
strong play of Tony Tchani and Julian de Guzman - the latter nearly scored on a screamer at the 11th minute but Hall was alert.
Man of the Match

When Plata was selected at the 2011 MLS SuperDraft in the final round, 49th overall (out of 54), one of the first questions he asked a TFC staff member 
was "what number will I wear?" He is small, but confident in his ability. His fearless pursuit of the opposition goal created numerous chances throughout 
the match, the most important of which came at the 81st minute when he threaded Maicon Santos through on goal for a 2-0 lead.  

Facing Houston, and subsequently demolishing their defence, also marks a milestone in personal growth for Plata. When the teenager first faced the 
mammoth Dynamo defenders and midfielders in preseason, they tossed the 5'3" Ecuadorian around at will. Plata learned from that and didn't show the 
slightest reluctance to put his skills on display against the bruising visitors. Plata dropped in the draft because MLS is considered too physical 
for someone of his stature, or perhaps because he occupies an international roster spot. Whatever the reason, 20, 259 Toronto supporters left BMO Field 
on Saturday quite satisfied with Toronto's selection. However, head coach Aron Winter warned following the match that he will continue to be protective 
of the young phenom to manage expectations. 

Starting XI

Toronto - Stefan Frei; Mikael Yourassowsky, Adrian Cann, Dicoy Williams, Richard Eckersley; Julian de Guzman, Tony Tchani, 
Jacob Peterson (Matt Gold 76'); Joao Plata (Dan Gargan 90'), Alan Stevanovic (Maicon Santos 75'), Nick Soolsma 
... Substitutes not used: Milos Kocic, Danleigh Borman, Ty Harden, Nathan Sturgis 
... Goals: Plata 50' PK, Maicon 81' 
... Caution: Williams 42' Eckersley 88'

Houston - Tally Hall; Andre Hainault, Eddie Robinson, Bobby Boswell (Colin Clark 75'), Hunter Freeman (Corey Ashe 75'); Brad Davis, Lovel Palmer, 
Geoff Cameron, Je-Vaughn Watson; Cam Weaver (Will Bruin 62'), Koke 
... Substitutes not used: Tyler Deric, Mike Chabala, Kofi Sarkodie, Jason Garey 
... Goal: Palmer 87' 
... Caution: None

Following Fixture
Wednesday, May 11
9 p.m. - GOL TV Canada
Frisco, Texas

Dallas drew D.C. United away in the U.S. capital on Saturday night, but prior to that outcome they had won maximum points on a pair of 2-1 results 
against Vancouver and Los Angeles. The 2010 MLS Cup finalist has been inconsistent this season, getting off to a winless-in-three start before taking 
revenge on Colorado in early April for last November's Cup Final defeat. The team is coping with the loss of reigning league MVP David Ferreira, who 
is unavailable Wednesday due to a broken ankle. This will be Toronto's sixth match in 18 days dating back to April 23. 

Preki Post Game

Although Plata's performance was easy on the eyes, Toronto's overall team effort is the competing story of the match. Like Plata, Eckersley received 
his first start in MLS and Soolsma was back after a stint in the wilderness following the Vancouver match in the opening week. Aside from a few long 
balls - some were necessary clearances - there weren't any glaring negatives in Toronto's play. The question is, with the busiest month in club history 
underway (eight competitive matches, including a home-and-home cup final for Champions League berth) can the Reds repeat this kind of performance more 
often, and in particular, away from home? 

Stats were fairly even between the sides, though Houston's look more favourable due to Toronto sitting back slightly with 20 minutes to go. Houston had 
more possesion at 54%, attempts on goal 16-11 and used their size to win 59% of duels. However, they didn't truly threaten until the late stages of the 
match, when Stefan Frei produced a sensational save just before losing his clean sheet bid. 

In Their Words

"We played well like a team today.  Everybody, and also the subs that came in, they all helped to get the victory and I am satisfied about it.  
Compliments to not only the team spirit but also to the way we played today ... It was a strange decision (the second disallowed penalty) because he saw 
it well, he said that it was a penalty but the linesman saw something different.  It was strange. For me it was a penalty." - Head coach Aron Winter
"I think it is every player’s job, to be a captain in the position that they are in.  I mean if at right back you kind of have to help out the right 
winger, or even the centre back.  It is important that everybody is vocal on the pitch.  Bob (De Klerk) makes it clear that after the game everyone 
should have a sore throat because of a lot of yelling for 90 minutes. That’s another thing that has changed around this team, guys are vocal." 
- Midfielder Julian de Guzman 

"I am very happy but the most important thing is that we got the three points and the win for the team ... I always have confidence in myself and I knew 
at that moment (penalty kick) that I was ready to take the shot. I was confident in what I was going to do so I just grabbed the ball, put it on the spot 
and waited for the ref to convert the goal ... I was very, very happy and before the game I said that if I scored a goal I was going to dedicate the goal 
to the coach in response for the confidence that he has had with me." - Forward Joao Plata

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