Real Salt Lake just received a bad break or rather Joao Plata received the bad break. Plata fractured the fifth metatarsal in his left foot during training on Sunday and will miss three-to-four months of action, the club announced on Monday. Team Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Andrew Cooper will be doing the surgery.
Plata was scheduled to undergo surgery to mend the break on Monday at Salt Lake Regional Medical Center. The injury occurred during “a non-contact change-of-direction on artificial turf” in Salt Lake’s only field session before departing for Casa Grande, Arizona on Monday their first preseason camp.
This injury came the day before the club announced that they had just purchased Plata’s contract and signed him to a multi-year deal. Due to fees associated with Plata’s acquisition, he now holds Young Designated Player status under Major League Soccer’s roster and salary compliance guidelines.
He came to Salt Lake in a trade with Toronto FC on January 30, 2013. Since arriving, he has 17 goals and 14 assists in 55 regular season matches for the club. He led the team last year with 13 goals, a career-high, to rank 10th on the league’s scoring charts. In his two seasons with the team, he is tied for the second-highest total on the club in goals, trails only Costa Rican international Alvaro Saborio (20). His total of 14 assists is second only to Javier Morales (20).
Real Salt Lake Technical Director Craig Waibel had this to say about Joao:
"“Kudos to club ownership for making the commitment to a young player in Joao Plata who has proven himself as an exciting, dynamic offensive threat for RSL. Plata has earned this, to have the multiple parties involved in his player pass be eliminated and the security of knowing that this club, Real Salt Lake, is his home, now and for the foreseeable future.”"
This will be a huge blow to Salt Lake so early into the preseason. Best case scenario, Joao would be back sometime in late May or early June. This is barring any setbacks that can happen during recovery. Joao is a vital piece to Salt Lake’s offense and they will miss him sorely. The team will hope that Morales and Saborio can carry the load for the first third of the season or hope someone else steps up to carry the burden.
I’m sure they will be fine in the end. They always seem to find a way to survive during these moments of despair. He could be coming back at the perfect time as the 2015 edition of the Gold Cup takes place at the beginning of July. They could use his services at that time as it is likely the team will be missing some very key players at that time.
It is also important for him not to rush back and cause further damage to it. I’m sure the team will make sure he recovers correctly and not let him back too soon. He has a bright future ahead of him as he is only 22 years old.