Joao Jimmy Plata Cotera (Spanish pronunciation: ; born March 1, 1992) is an Ecuadorian footballer who plays for Real Salt Lake in Major League Soccer as a forward.
Plata began his career in the youth ranks of hometown club Barcelona before joining the Alfaro Moreno Academia in Guayaquil in 2009. After impressing at Alfaro Moreno he joined the youth ranks of LDU Quito.
Plata impressed Liga coach Edgardo Bauza and was called up to the senior side during the Second Stage of the 2010 Serie A season. On August 22, 2010 Plata made his professional debut for LDU Quito at Estadio Casa Blanca in a 1–0 victory over Olmedo. His debut was considered very promising and Plata became a fixture for the rest of the season.
On September 18, 2010 Plata scored his first professional goal in a 1–0 victory over ESPOLI. This important goal helped Liga consolidate their position at the top of the table. Plata ended the season appearing in 7 league matches (starting 5) and scoring one goal as Liga captured the Second Stage of the 2010 Serie A and then defeated Emelec to be declared national champion for the 10th time in the club's history.
At the conclusion of the 2010 season, in order to continue his development, Plata was loaned to Major League Soccer and was selected by Toronto FC with the No. 49 pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. Toronto FC signed Plata on March 24, 2011. On April 2 Plata made his debut for Toronto as a second half sub for Alen Stevanović, in a 1–1 home draw against Chivas USA. On April 27 Plata made his first start for Toronto and provided two assists in a 3–0 away win against FC Edmonton in the first leg of the Canadian Championship. For the second leg on May 4, Plata again made the starting line-up and provided an assist as well as receiving Man of the Match honours in a 1–0 home win, giving Toronto a 4–0 aggregate victory over FC Edmonton to advance to the Canadian Championship final. Plata got his first MLS goal in a 2–1 victory over Houston Dynamo the goal was a well taken penalty and he later went on to set up the second for Maicon Santos, his performance earned him MLS player of the week. On July 2 Plata scored a crucial goal against Vancouver Whitecaps FC helping seal Toronto's third consecutive Canadian Championship, earning the team a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League. Plata was awarded the George Gross Memorial Trophy as the tournament's best player. On July 27 Plata made his Champions League debut against Real Esteli F.C. coming on for Gianluca Zavarise in the 49th minute, Plata led his team to a 2–1 home victory scoring both goals. Plata's success continued in the champions league scoring two goals in a crucial match-up against FC Dallas on October 18 in the final group stage game, with a 3–0 away victory it advanced Toronto to its first ever quarter final appearance.
On January 11, 2012 the club announced a multi-year deal to keep Plata at Toronto FC; as per club policy and league, the details of the new contract signing were not disclosed, but reports suggest a $500,000 fee was paid to secure him. Plata scored his first goal of the season on April 4, during the second leg of the 2011–12 CONCACAF Champions League semifinals against Santos Laguna, Plata scored both goals in a 6–2 away loss.
Plata returned to LDU Quito on a six-month loan from Toronto on July 11, 2012.
Real Salt Lake
Plata re-joined Toronto in January 2013 upon the end of the loan. However, on January 30, 2013 he was traded to Real Salt Lake in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft.
In 2014, the Twitter hashtag #PlataEsOro became popular, a play on the meaning of Plata's name, "plata" being the Spanish word for "silver" and "oro" meaning "gold."
Plata was a member of the Ecuador Under-20 national team. On May 20, 2011 Plata was given his first senior call-up to the national team that will play in three friendlies between May 28 – June 7 that will help determine La Tricolor's final roster for this summer's Copa América. Plata made his debut for the senior team against Canada, on June 1, 2011, as a second half sub in a 2–2 away draw, at his club team, Toronto FC's home field BMO Field. Plata was called up for friendlies against the United States and El Slavador, in the game against El Salvador Plata scored two goals in a 5–1 win over El Salvador
Style of play
Standing at 1.57 metres, Plata is the shortest player in MLS history; although not physically imposing, his small stature, combined with his low centre of gravity and resulting balance, make him extremely agile, and allow him to change direction very quickly in tight spaces, while his strong legs allow him to excel in short bursts of speed. In addition to his mobility and elusiveness, Plata is an extremely quick and dynamic player, who is known for his great acceleration over short distances, and his pace on the ball, as well as his dribbling ability and technical skills. A creative forward, Plata is an accurate finisher, and is capable of both scoring and assisting goals, which allows him to play in several offensive positions: although he has been used as a striker or as a supporting forward, his favoured role is on the left wing, a position which allows him to move out wide to receive the ball, beat players on the dribble, and subsequently cut into the middle of the pitch on his stronger right foot to either shoot on goal or set up his teammates.