Here’s the release from the league:
Toronto FC forward Joao Plata was voted Major League Soccer Player of the Week by the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) for Week 8 of the 2011 MLS season. The 19-year-old Ecuadorian recorded his first MLS goal and first assist in his team’s 2-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo at BMO Field.
Early in the second half, Nick Soolsma picked off a pass in the Dynamo defensive line. As he advanced into the penalty area, Soolsma was taken down by André Hainault. Plata immediately picked up the ball to take the ensuing penalty kick, confidently smashing it underneath the crossbar and past goalkeeper Tally Hall.
With Toronto leading 1-0 in the 81st minute, Soolsma sprung Plata on the left wing. Plata dribbled at his defender and slid the ball into the path of Maicon Santos, who took a touch before firing it past Hall into the far low corner. Santos’ strike proved to be the game-winner after Lovell Palmer’s late tally for Houston.
Plata was selected in the third round of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft as the 49th overall pick. Five players new to MLS in 2011 have won the Player of the Week award so far this season (see list below). Despite his youth, Plata entered MLS with professional experience at Liga de Quito in Ecuador and therefore he is not considered a rookie. He is a member of Ecuador’s under-20 national team.
The MLS Player of the Week is selected each week of the regular season by a panel of journalists from NASR. The group consists of members of print, television, radio and online media. More information and membership information can be found at www.soccerreporters.com.
Plata had been my first instinct, since he had a hand in both of his team’s goals. But a closer look revealed a PK and a pretty routine pass. So I ended up giving my first-place vote to David Beckham, who had one of the best passing games I’ve ever seen in what was clearly the MLS game of the week, and probably game of the season thus far. My second-place vote went to Kasey Keller.