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TFC’s Plata wins MLS Player of the Week honour

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The shortest player in Major League Soccer has made a major impact.

Toronto FC became the eighth separate team in eight weeks to have an MLS Player of the Week, as the North American Soccer Reporters gave the honour to Joao Plata, the Ecuadorean midfielder selected 49th in this year’s SuperDraft.

Plata scored on a penalty and then made a great run down the left side and made a deft pass to spring Maicon Santos for the game-winning tally as the Reds beat the Houston Dynamo 2-1 on Saturday.

TFC coach Aron Winter has slowly worked Plata into the lineup, getting him some time as a sub and then in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship, where he was TFC’s best player in the two-legged semifinal win over FC Edmonton.

Plata was projected to go higher in the draft but fell — likely because of his five-foot-three frame. But, he has become a TFC fan favourite for his shifty runs, and great vision on the field.

How The 11 voted: Plata. Maybe there was some influence from the NCC matches. But Plata didn’t win because he was able to roof his penalty under the bar. He won because of how he dominated the left side of the pitch, how his runs caused trouble for the Dynamo all game long. His pass to Maicon Santos was a great example of Plata’s potential; he waited and waited for a defender to come at him, which would open up a gap in the back. As the last second, Plata slipped the ball through and sent his teammate free.

The second-place vote went to New York Red Bulls’ goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul, who has regained his starting job. He made several key saves in preserving a 1-1 draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy Saturday.

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