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The quick forward has stepped up as the focal point of the RSL attack this season, and has scored important goals in recent weeks.

With his 18th minute goal against the New York Red Bulls, Joao Plata scored for the third time in five games. On all three occasions, the Ecuadorian striker's goals earned his team at least a point. After an undefeated 6-0-6 start to the 2014 MLS draw, Real Salt Lake's form took a nosedive, and Plata's goals are helping to pull it out and keep the Claret-and-Cobalt out of the playoff mire.

“He’s just deadly right now," enthused RSL coach Jeff Cassar after the game. "Most of his shots are on target, and tonight was no exception. He’s hungry, he wants to keep scoring. I thought he and Olmes (Garcia) were great together, and really put a lot of pressure on New York.

"Joao is very engaged.”

Veteran defender Chris Wingert was also impressed with the 22-year-old, who leads RSL in scoring this season with nine from 16 appearances.

“His finish tonight was unbelievable," said Wingert, in his eighth season with the club. "He’s just feeling it and it’s not a surprise. I told my dad last year this guy’s a goal scorer. He didn’t have big numbers last year but you should see the way he finishes in practice. He hits the heck out of the ball, he’s sharp around the goal, he’s got an unbelievable fighting spirit.

"I don’t know if you can see that from outside of the field but the guy competes like crazy, Even when we play ping pong. True story, he’s yelling at himself and screaming. He’s a beast. I love playing with him.”

Real Salt Lake is currently second in the Western Conference with 33 points from 21 games.

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