Oh what a difference a year has made for Joao Plata. This time a year ago fans were calling for the club to bring him back and the club obliged securing a transfer to bring the player in from LDU Quito on a long term deal. That move was welcomed warmly by fans who had been impressed by his performances as a rookie in MLS.
Since then it has all gone off the rails. He struggled to make any impact early in the season and found his role being diminished even under Aron Winter. When Paul Mariner took over 10 games into the season it signaled the end for Plata. We got the whole saga of him leaving for LDU Quito, the club denying it, photos proving it, and then finally getting word that the player had been loaned back to his former club in Ecuador.
Now, he is gone for good. The club announced Wednesday morning that Plata had been dealt to Real Salt Lake in exchange for a 2nd round SuperDraft pick in the 2015 draft. Not much of a return for a player who had a massive role in helping TFC reach the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League.
In the long run TFC gets next to nothing for Plata with just a single pick in a draft two years away coming back in return. The short term is that the club has gotten rid of a player who did not seem to be in the plans and are now free to move forward.
Dealing Plata frees up an international roster slot as well as more room to work with in the budget. That means this deal is one that will be hard to judge until we can see the full picture. Just like draft day we now have to wait and hope that the club does something good with that roster slot and added funds. Until we see what they do most fans will probably have mixed reactions about this deal.
It may have seemed like a foregone conclusion that Plata was going to leave the club after he went out on loan last season but despite that he remained a fan favourite for his efforts in 2011. It is probably a safe bet that a fair few TFC fans are going to be sad to see him go, myself included, even if it might be for the best for both the club and the player.
In RSL, Plata should get the chance to play which is what he needs at this stage in his career. They can use him to bring pace into the game for the closing stages to try and press or they can use him to provide some much needed depth in their attacking group. RSL is in need of attacking options with so few currently on their roster so this move does make good sense for them. Low risk in terms of the price they paid for Plata and high reward if they can get him to consistently perform at the level he showed flashes of with TFC in 2011.