Toronto FC made a major improvement in the second half of last season after signing Designated Players Torsten Frings and Danny Koevermans, but it was a 19-year-old, 5'2'' Ecuadorian who was as much a part of the Reds' turnaround as anyone. Now, Toronto has made sure to keep that diminutive forward/winger in the fold for a few more years, signing Joao Plata to a multi-year dear deal that will keep him at BMO Field for the foreseeable future.
"We are very happy to get this deal completed and keep Plata at our club," Toronto FC coach Aron Winter said in a statement. "Plata had a great year with us in 2011. He made a strong contribution on the pitch.
"Re-signing Plata was a high priority for our club during the off-season. I have to compliment everyone involved for making this a reality. Plata wanted to remain in Toronto and we wanted to keep him. We know our fans will be happy with this announcement."
On loan from LDU Quito last season, Plata scored three goals and had five assists in MLS play and made an even bigger contribution in cup play. He scored a goal and added three assists in four Nutrilite Canadian Championship matches to win the tournament MVP and help his team earn a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League. Then in the continental championship he had four goals and an assist as Toronto advanced to the knockout stages of the competition. With Plata, Frings, Koevermans, Ryan Johnson, Eric Avila and a few others, Toronto have a great mix of young and old in the attack that compares with almost any other in MLS.
After playing regularly for Ecuadorian youth national teams, Plata got his first senior team cap for Ecuador against Canada at BMO Field in March.