Real Salt Lake winger Joao Plata hasn’t received a call-up to the Ecuador national team in two years — until now.
Plata has been selected to the Equator national team for its final two 2018 World Cup qualifying matches, Futbolecuador.com reported. Real Salt Lake confirmed the report to The Tribune through a spokesperson.
Albert Rusnák (Slovakia), Jefferson Savarino (Venezuela), and Nick Rimado (United States) have also been selected to their respective national teams for World Cup qualifiers in October, according to a source with knowledge of the call-ups. All four are expected to leave after a Sept. 30 match at the L.A. Galaxy.
RSL coach Mike Petke alluded to Plata’s selection after Saturday’s win over Portland.
“Attacking-wise, we have easily three big-time players along the middle: Plata, Albert [Rusnák] and [Jefferson] Savarino,” Petke said. “And by the way, all three of them have been called to their national team — Plata getting back to the national team. These guys have put the work in.”
Plata, who has four caps with Ecuador’s senior team, made a convincing case for a call-up at the beginning of last season, when he scored four goals over RSL’s first five matches. He cooled off after that, finishing the season with nine goals.
Playing for Ecuador was an objective that Plata and the coaching staff have often talked about, Petke said after a training session in July.
Plata is tied with Yura Movsisyan to lead Real Salt Lake with seven goals. He has also logged four assists.