Hold me closer, Tiny Dancer.
Toronto FC made a big pre SuperDraft splash today with the announcement that the long drawn out process of getting the re-signing of Joao Plata from 99% to 100% is finally done, and he'll be back in 2012, on a multi year term. There were of course no details beyond that. After all why would TFC fans (or other club's fans seeing as how the contract is technically through MLS itself) want to know things like the length of contract, the salary and transfer fee involved, and whether MLS/TFC now fully owns Plata, or if as rumoured it's some kind of creative 50/50 split with his old club FCD Quito. Until those details come out, whether openly and willingly once everyone's back from the draft, or as usual quietly and inconsistently leaked out from inside sources before the union finally confirms things with the release of the 2012 salaries, we won't be able to definitively say this is a good deal or not, but what the hell, I'm happy he's back.
It was a very quiet little announcement for a club currently looking to sell twice as many individual game tickets as it ever has before. No fanfare, press conference and awkward translating back and forth of questions, just a quick release on the club's website. Maybe there's a lot more to come that will allow the club to have a big splashy presser with multiple new players sometime in the future. There was more twitter talk of defenders Juan Aceval and Giovanni Caicedo today, we're guaranteed some new players from the draft, even if it is just a straight forward two draft picks, and of course Richard Eckersley is still presumably at 99% done, so let's hope for something big next week.
As well as all the financial and contractual details, there'll be on the pitch questions Big Joao himself will have to answer, can he adapt his game against defenders who now know what he brings? Has he improved enough with his left foot that he'll be able to vary his attack, go down the outside more often and thus keep those defenders guessing so his regular forays inside are less predictable and more effective? Can he become more consistent, cutting down on the ineffective and frustrating games, and becoming more of a regular threat as well as being the sporadically spectacular gamechanger we saw in 2011?
That's all for the future though, for now at least we can breathe easy and celebrate that one of our best players is back, and what better way to do that than with a bunch of highlights of when he did get it right. If I had any kind of technical skills, they'd all be mixed together into one simple highlights package, with suitably bad music playing behind it. As you can tell though, I do not have those technical skills, so you'll just have to hum 'Tiny Dancer' 'Nobody does it better' and something suitably upbeat and Latino as you watch. Enjoy.
It was the Voyaguers Cup game against Edmonton where he first showed the BMO Field crowd what he could do, this here is a positively delicious assist on Alan Gordon's goal.
Here's a highlight video of when he won MLS player of the week against Houston. Includes the celebration after his goal where the whole team seemingly just wants to bearhug the little guy, and the even better celebration after Santos' goal, poor Matt Gold, but unfortunately doesn't include him charmingly showing off his MOTM trophy to all corners of the gorund. Turn the volume down first though as this one has an absolutely terrible soundtrack, worse than anything I was describing earlier.
Here's his goal against Chicago, showcasing the cut inside move that would serve him so well
This is all the highlights of the game against Real Esteli, including his fantastic free kick about 2 minutes in. Keep watching for the comedy 'dry grass' stylings of Milos Kocic.
Here he showcases his speed and skill against Captain America and the Earthquakes, before sadly being called offside
For something different and more traditionally wingerish, here's a gorgeous cross for Ryan Johnson to score against Columbus
Next, here's his spectacular last goal of the season, the clincher in Dallas
And we'll end with not his best goal, but probably his most important, and the best commentary. Plataaaaaa....Scoooooooooooooooores!
All of that got him number 3 in the Toronto FC Top 40 Countdown. If he can match or beat that next year, over a full season, whatever TFC paid for him will look like a bargain.