This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Sandy • Joao Plata's stellar start to 2016 is now on pause.
The Real Salt Lake striker suffered a Grade 1 hip flexor/quadriceps strain Wednesday afternoon during a training session at Rio Tinto Stadium, RSL coach Jeff Cassar confirmed Thursday in Sandy. The 24-year-old Ecuadorian was participating in a drill when he suddenly pulled up lame, grabbing at his left thigh. Plata left training grimacing, grasping at his left leg.
"It's probably going to be a 7-to-10 day [timeline]," Cassar told the Tribune. "So not great news, but at the end of the day, he's going to fine."
The injury certainly rules Plata out of this weekend's Western Conference clash with rival L.A. Galaxy at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., Saturday night. Depending on how quickly he heals and returns to full training, Plata could also miss RSL's home match against Houston on April 30.
Through RSL's unbeaten start to 2016 at 4-0-2, Plata has been a terror to opposing back lines, netting four goals and notching four assists in 522 minutes played in 2016. The dynamic 5-foot-2 forward was named MLS Player of the Month in March, and didn't slow down once into April.
Plata has either scored a goal or assisted on a goal in every match this year. The six-game streak is tied for the second-longest in club history, only behind a seven-game stretch by midfielder Javier Morales from Aug. 2, 2014, to Sept. 27, 2014, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Plata's six-game streak is the third longest to start an MLS season in the history of the league, behind the likes of Cobi Jones (nine straight, 1998), Clint Dempsey (eight straight, 2015) and MLS legends Preki (1997), Mauricio Cienfuegos (1998) and Andy Williams (1998), all of whom are tied at seven.
"It's stuff you have to deal with," Cassar said of Plata's untimely injury. "[Feel] really comfortable with the player we're going to be putting in there. Could be Olmes [Garcia], could be Jordan Allen. This year already people have shown that they could step up into those positions and this doesn't change anything."