Philadelphia Union v Toronto FC

Real Salt Lake completes acquisition of Joao Plata from Toronto FC

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After a year away from Major League Soccer, 20-year-old attacker Joao Plata returns, though he’ll do so in a new location. With today’s trade between Toronto FC and Real Salt Lake, the former LDU Quito attacker moved to the Rockies in exchange for a 2015 second round pick. He joins a talented RSL attack that includes Alvaro Saborio, Javier Morales, Luis Gil, and the recently returned Robbie Finley,

It’s still a bit of a strange move, one that sees two organizational narratives collide. Toronto has acquired a reputation for being a bit of a wayward ship, with former D.C. United architect Kevin Payne brought in to right its course. Real Salt Lake, on the other hand, has been model organization. At least, they’ve been considered one ever since winning MLS Cup in 2009.

Both narratives, to the extent they can be believed, are worth considering when evaluating the deal.

Toronto FC as a dysfunctional place – That’s not necessarily my personal point of view, but it is still the narrative, and when you see a player whose capable of playing for a South American power the LDU Quito reconsider his North American move and temporarily return home, you can’t help but wonder what’s going on in Toronto.

Now under new management, the Reds have traded the 20-year-old attacker to Real Salt Lake for a pick that’s unlikely to get them the value Plata delivered at No. 49 in 2011. The move may be the product of philosophical shifts or new decision-makers getting what they could for a player who didn’t figure into plans. Regardless, Toronto’s just parted ways with a talented player, and part of the situation comes down to organizational uncertainty.

Real Salt Lake can save these players – When Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Kenny Mansally provided valuable depth to last year’s team, RSL reaffirmed a growing reputation for taking other teams’ talent and getting the most out of it. Nat Borchers, Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando, Chris Wingert, Ned Grabavoy – all of these players are valued contributors, yet none of them started with Real Salt Lake. With Aaron Maund, Cole Grossman and Lovel Palmer joining this offseason, Jason Kries has another class of players who could revitalize their careers in Utah.

Plata has yet to have an MLS career to revitalize, but while in Toronto he showed the potential to be an above average player. With Fabian Espindola traded to New York, Real Salt Lake as a place behind Alvaro Saborio for a player with Plata’s skill set. He’s somebody that could both combine with Javier Morales as well as win balls knocked down by Saborio. If he plays through the middle (as opposed to out wide, as he did with Toronto), Plata could see an uptick in goals.

This all assumes he plays, but he has the talent to do so. For whatever reason he left Toronto, it’s not hard to imagine Plata not having some success in Salt Lake.

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 2-1 Montreal Impact

Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC

The game in 100 words (or less): For weeks, it was a widely held belief that the Montreal Impact would snatch up the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference with little or no resistance from their opposition. As they went six games unbeaten (four wins), all looked to be setting up perfect for the club that fired Frank Klopas midseason, but there was another team in the race for sixth that kept winning themselves: Orlando City SC. On Saturday night, Montreal and Orlando City faced off at the Citrus, with the expansion Lions claiming their fourth-straight victory with a 2-1 triumph. Montreal now holds a one-point lead on Orlando in the race for sixth, and have two games in hand, but it’s no longer a foregone conclusion L’Impact will qualify for the playoffs no resistance whatsoever.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

33′ — Bush’s mistake gifts Larin the opening goal — Larin did what your taught to do as a striker — “put it on frame, test the goalkeeper” — but in no universe does a shot so feeble have any business finding the back of the net. Evan Bush has been great this year. Hopefully (for Montreal’s sake), this howler doesn’t turn into the yips with the playoffs looming.

43′ — Hall’s “mistake” gifts Oduro an equalizer — Dominic Oduro equalized in the 43rd minute, when he took the ball out of the hands of Tally Hall and smashed it into the back of the net, but the goal should have been disallowed due to Hall having full control of the ball.

80′ — Hines hits the winner for Orlando — Seb Hines put the ball back into the mixer and just so happened to find the back of the net in the 80th minute. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

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Man of the match: Seb Hines

Goalscorers: Larin (33′), Oduro (43′), Hines (80′)

MLS Snapshot: NY Red Bulls 2-1 Columbus Crew SC

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
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The game in 100 words (or less): Two weeks in a row Columbus Crew SC have had a chance to go top of the Eastern Conference with a victory, and two weeks in a row Crew SC have failed to take a single point from massively important fixtures. Their latest defeat, a 2-1 humbling at the hands of the East-leading New York Red Bulls, started so well for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but was undone by a pair of costly, comedic defensive errors that allowed Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips (15th of the season) to erase an early deficit (Justin Meram) and win all three points. The result not only keeps the Red Bulls top of the East, but gives them a three- and four-point cushion with three and two games in hand on their nearest competitors., D.C. United and New England Revoltion respectively. For Crew SC, they’re four points back of the Red Bulls in fourth place, one point ahead of fifth-place Toronto FC, who have a game in hand.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Meram pokes it past Robles for an early lead — Meram “earned” his goal all the way back in midfield, when the Iraqi international’s mazy run took a routine turnover inside Crew SC’s defensive half and turned it into a dangerous counter-attacking opportunity. Harrison Afful overlapped and provided the cross for Meram to send home.

12′ — Sam capitalizes on multiple mistakes to equalize — Crew SC pass the ball out of the back. They don’t boot it forward to clear. It’s just what they do. Sometimes, that’ll bite you. When your goalkeeper and right back both have blunders clearing the ball 10 seconds apart, you probably deserve to concede an ugly, scrappy goal.

21′ — Wright-Phillips capitalizes on more defensive gaffes — See the above description for Red Bulls goal no. 1.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

Goalscorers: Meram (9′), Sam (12′), Wright-Phillips (21′)