Joao Plata

Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP

Real Salt Lake signs Plata to multi-year DP deal

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SANDY, Utah (AP) Real Salt Lake has re-signed forward Joao Plata to a multi-year contract and he will continue to hold a designated-player spot.

The 24-year-old was acquired from Toronto FC before the 2013 season and he has 30 goals and 30 assists in regular-season play with RSL.

[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]

Plata ranks No. 3 on the team’s all-time assists list and No. 5 in goals. He has 33 goals and 35 assists during his MLS career.

Real Salt Lake begins the season Saturday when it hosts Toronto FC.

MLS Snapshots: Fire 2-2 Red Bulls | Union 1-2 Real Salt Lake (video)

AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Smiley N. Pool
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The game in 100 words (or less): The New York Red Bulls needed all 90 minutes of Sunday’s duel with the bottom-of-the-league Chicago Fire to salvage a draw and a point, but it’s a result that sees them drop just two points off the pace of Eastern Conference-leading New York City FC this weekend. Matt Polster scored a goal at each end before halftime, and David Accam and Bradley Wright-Phillips joined him on the scoresheet, with the latter equalizing for the visitors in the final minute of regular time and becoming the Red Bulls’ all-time leading goalscorer in the process, surpassing Juan Pablo Angel.

[ MORE: All the rest of Sunday’s MLS action ]

Three Four moments that mattered 

16′ — Polster puts the ball into his own net — Just the first goal scored by Polster this evening.

35′ — Accam rolls one past Robles for 1-1 — They call this a worm-burner.

45+1′ — Polster puts one in at the other end — Polster followed up his first own goal with the first goal of his career. What an eventful evening for the second-year man.

90′ — BWP turns Lade’s cross home for 2-2 — Such a deft touch, and with pinpoint redirection.

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Man of the match: David Accam

Goalscorers: Polster (16′ – OG, 45+1′), Accam (35′), Wright-Phillips (90′)

The game in 100 words (or less): Barely a month after holding the top spot in the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia Union can’t stop the bleeding. Sunday’s 2-1 home loss to Real Salt Lake was their fourth in six games, a five-week span which includes just one win. After going ahead just before halftime, Jim Curtin’s side conceded a pair of goals inside the first 10 minutes of the second half, bringing their total number of goals conceded to 20 in their last nine games (prior to that skid, they had conceded just 15 goals in 13 games). RSL, meanwhile, entered Sunday’s clash without a win in their last six games and just four wins in their last 14 games after they were the last unbeaten side to start the season (six games). The Union remain third in the East, a point back of the Red Bulls, while RSL pull level on points with fourth-place Sporting Kansas City in the Western Conference, but remain fifth based on total wins.

[ MORE: Previewing the rest of the MLS weekend ]

Three moments that mattered 

44′ — Alberg converts from the spot for 1-0 — Cool as you like from Roland Alberg.

48′ — Plata curls a beauty far post — Joao Plata is indescribably fun to watch on a soccer field.

54′ — Morales chips Blake for 2-1 — It’s a thing of beauty.

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Man of the match: Joao Plata

Goalscorers: Alberg (44′ – PK), Plata (47′), Morales (54′)

MLS Snapshot: Real Salt Lake 1-0 Colorado Rapids (video)

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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The game in 100 words (or less): Real Salt Lake are up to second place in the Western Conference after a hard-fought 1-0 victory over their Rocky Mountain Cup rivals, the Colorado Rapids, Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium. Joao Plata continued his scintillating start to the 2016 season by scoring the game’s only goal, a late winner when it looked as though the visitors would grit and grind their way to a scoreless away draw. A week after beating Sporting Kansas City in resounding fashion away from home, only a singular point separates the two sides at the top of the West after five games played. The Rapids, meanwhile, hold onto the sixth spot with three sides below them — Houston Dynamo, Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders — still to play on Sunday.

[ MORE: Previewing the rest of Week 4 in MLS ]

Three moments that mattered

45′ — Rimando rushes out to stop Solignac — Nick Rimando comes off his goal line quicker than anyone, and generally times his mad dashes better than anyone, too. Luis Solignac became just his latest victim.

72′ — Plata capitalizes on Sjoberg’s gaffe for 1-0 — Miscommunication at the back, to be sure. Axel Sjoberg and Zac MacMath will see this one in their sleep tonight, to be sure. His fourth goal of the season, to go with three assists, for Plata, making him an early-season MVP candidate, to be sure.

83′ — Movsisyan makes it 2-0, but sees it wrongly ruled out — You’ll be hard-pressed to find a defter finish in all of MLS 2016, which makes the fact that Yura Movsisyan saw this beauty wrongly ruled out for offside.

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Man of the match: Sunny

Goalscorers: Plata (72′)

Three things learned from Portland, RSL

AP Photo/Troy Wayrynen
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Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers played out a thrilling 2-2 draw at Providence Park.

[ MORE: Previewing MLS Week 3

Here’s a look at what we learned from an enthralling encounter in Oregon.

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Three Four Five things learned

Plata hammers a free kick past Kwarasey — Joao Plata scored the third free kick of the night in MLS, and Adam Kwarasey had absolutely no chance of getting a hand on this one. Hit, and stayed hit. Plata is capable of providing the X factor for RSL and this was a reminder of his incredible talent. The side from Utah need him to do this on a regular basis going forward.

Beckerman sees deserves red to put RSL in trouble… or so we thought — Kyle Beckerman was a bit late, went over the top of the ball and went studs up into the planted foot/ankle of Fanendo Adi. Check, check and check — that’s a red card. A player of Beckerman’s experience should know better and you can easily argue that his rash challenge cost his team two points.

[ MORE: Standings | Stats | Schedule ]  

Movsisyan stuns everyone, gets in behind to make it 2-0 — Down a man? Who cares? Certainly not Yura Movsisyan, who robbed Nat Borchers blind and went all the way to give 10-man RSL a 2-0 lead. Movsisyan rolled back the years to put RSL ahead and stun the home fans in Portland.

Adi steps up to spark the comeback — Dairon Asprilla nearly scored the beautiful chip, but came up with only woodwork. Fortunately for the Timbers, the ball fell to the feet of Adi, who slotted it past Nick Rimando as any decent poacher should do. Adi has been the man on the spot and is becoming a game changer for the Timbers.

Olave elbows Adi, sees red, gives away PK — As a 34-year-old veteran, you simply can’t do things like this. You especially can’t do things like this on the road, clutching a one-goal lead, playing down a man. Brace for Adi.

MLS Snapshots: Orlando City 2-2 RSL | Chicago Fire 3-4 NYCFC

Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): A first-half red card for either side made for tons of space and a wide open game of soccer in Orlando on Sunday, as 10-man Orlando City SC drew 2-2 with 10-man Real Salt Lake on goals scored in the 94th and 95th minutes. It was simply an utter capitulation from RSL’s defense. For 93 minutes, RSL were by far the better side and looked so confident and so assured of starting their season with three points away from home. A fun debate to have would be, “which of the two red cards was dumber?” I’ll take Darwin Ceren’s cheap shot on the head of Javier Morales, but could easily be talked into Demar Phillips’ head-high boot on Cyle Larin. Fun times. We’ll wait until either said plays a full 11-v-11 game before trying to discern too terribly much from their performance, but you have to wonder about RSL’s psyche after a self-destruction like this.

[ MORE: Previewing MLS First Kick 2016 ]

Three moments that mattered

20′ & 45+2′ — Phillips, Ceren sent off, both sides down to 10 — Look, if you’re opposite number is going for a 50-50 ball with his head, you can’t try to win the ball with your foot. Phillips tried anyway, and rightly saw red. Ceren should also know you can’t intentionally target the head of an opponent without making any play on the ball. Both sides down to 10 men, wide open soccer to ensue.

25′ — Movsysian taken down in the box, PK to RSL — Down a man? No problem for RSL, who won a penalty kick five minutes after Phillips’ dismissal. Seb Hines tried to win the ball off Yura Movsysian from behind, and ended up taking the Armenian down instead. Joao Plata converted the ensuing spot kick, 1-0 to RSL.

90+4′ & 90+5′ — OCSC hits RSL twice in two minutes, steals a point — What in the world happened, RSL? You were fewer than 60 seconds from closing out a thoroughly professional away victory to start your season. Cyle Larin bagged the first goal, which should have been nothing more than a late consolation, before Adrian Winter hammered home from a simple long ball over the top to rob RSL of two more points and grab one for themselves.

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Man of the match: Joao Plata

Goalscorers: Plata (26′ – PK, 66′), Larin (90+4′), Winter (90+5′)

The game in 100 words (or less): My advice: put on this track before reading any further and/or watching the below highlights. Got it playing in the background? OK, good. New York City FC and the Chicago Fire are atrocious defensive teams, and that made for a highly entertaining, hilarious game at Toyota Park on Sunday. The two sides combined for seven goals from seven different goalscorers, most of which were of the highest comedic value. Fortunately for NYCFC, they’ve got the firepower and intent to outscore just about any team in the league. This isn’t the last seven-goal game in which they’ll be involved this season. It’s almost surely not the highest-scoring game in which they’ll be involved, either. They’ll be appointing viewing each week. As for the Fire, well, the less said about them right now, the better.

[ MORE: Previewing MLS First Kick 2016 ]

Three moments that mattered

10′ — McNamara opens the scoring for 2016 — Tommy McNamara scored the first goal of the 2016 season, and a beauty it was — right-footed curler, from just outside the 18-yard box, banged in off the inside of the post.

19′ — Cocis gets in behind and slots it home — NYCFC were an unmitigated disaster defensively in 2015, and 2016 looks to be no different, at least early on. Simple things like tracking runners and not getting beat by archaic long balls are the least you would expect of a professional soccer team. Alas…

29′ — Yakety Sax defending from Chicago, and it’s 2-1 — Veljko Paunovic has a lot of work to do, doesn’t he?

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Man of the match: Tommy McNamara

Goalscorers: McNamara (10′), Cocis (19′), Taylor (29′), Shelton (36′), Igboananike (49′), Diskerud (63′) Accam (72′ – PK)