The city of Toronto is a buzz with Brett Lawrie of the Blue Jays. Toronto has been a buzz for the likes of Jose Bautista, and hopes are high for Travis Snider.
Nazim Kadri's future was very much a topic of discussion for Toronto hockey fans last season, and once camp opens soon, his name will be front and center again as a former first round draft pick.
There is an athlete, five foot three, and 19 years of age, who is having an impact on a Toronto sports team and the I believe a lot of people in and around the city of Toronto who are missing out on a special player, a special energy and a special young man. His name is Joao Plata. An Ecuadorian who Toronto FC drafted after making a draft day deal with Chicago.
I have said it over and over again on Sportsnet Radio's play by play of Toronto FC and on GOL TV and Sportsnet's Champions League calls, Plata is the second coming of Pinball Clemons for Toronto Sports. Yes stature has a lot to do with the comparison. Both smaller than most they line up against on game day. Both with an engine that just not have have a slow gear. Like Clemons before him, Joao has the ability to leave his mark on a game through sheer determination as well as skill.
All three goals so far for Plata have come at BMO field. After the goal there is the dance. You can see the pure joy in Plata's face when he scores and goal and then swiveles his hips for the home crowd. Joao is a player and an entertainer. Just what Toronto's sports scene needs right now, while wins and playoffs are at a premium.
Plata's impact on Toronto will only be heightened when the young man from Ecuador learns to speak better English, and he is working on it with help from teammates like Julian de Guzman.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment has a gem on it's hands when it comes to a marketable young star. Plata will not likely lead Major League Soccer in any offencive categories. I would argue he does not have to. All Plata has to do in order to continue to have an impact both on his team and the city, is keep working as hard as he has been, and stay teachable and humble. There is every reason to believe this very likable young man will follow that path.
The FAN 590's Dan Dunleavy provides Toronto FC coverage on and off the pitch for GOLTV.ca