TORONTO - Joao Plata is staking a strong claim to become a permanent member of Toronto FC.
The diminutive forward, on loan from LDU Quito in his native Ecuador, scored the lone goal as Toronto FC picked up its first league win in over a month with a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
"We have been given him the opportunity and we're going to try to keep him. The development he's made in a short period is great but he is still young," said Toronto head coach Aron Winter of the 19-year old.
Toronto's last win was a 1-0 result over the Vancouver Whitecaps at the end of June. The victory comes after four straight losses followed by a pair of draws.
Plata scored with just under 15 minutes left when he put in a low shot that Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando watched go by into the left corner.
Toronto (4-11-11) had a pair of good chances for an early lead in the first half.
Danny Koevermans' shot from outside the 18-yard box rolled just wide six minutes into the match.
That was followed up just a minute later with some fancy foot work by Plata that freed up some space, allowing him to cross to an unmarked Peri Marosevic whose shot was palmed away by Rimando.
"We started well and had two or three good opportunities and they also had a few chances but I think if you watched the whole game I think we deserved the win," said Winter.
Torsten Frings, playing in an unfamiliar position at the centre of Toronto's defence, nearly contributed to a Salt Lake (10-6-6) goal 30 minutes into the match when he made a tackle on Fabian Espindola but failed to clear the ball.
Espindola found the ball with him alone on goal, but his shot went off the crossbar and out.
"It was very important that we were finally able to get a result. It was good for our spirits to finally get a win," said Frings, who was otherwise very solid at the back. "They're a good side but I think over 90 minutes we played very well. We didn't let them get into a rhythm and we disrupted them fairly well. "
Milos Kocic, filling in for Stefan Frei in the Toronto net, was solid as Salt Lake pressed late for an equalizer. He preserved the win with a diving save off a hard volley from Salt Lake midfielder Will Johnson, who is also from Toronto.
"I'm very happy for my teammates and for myself as well. We did a great job tonight. It's good for our confidence," said Kocic, who made his first start of the MLS season, having only started in the club's CONCACAF Champions League qualifiers. "We haven't lost in the last few games and tonight we got the win against a very good team. So that's a great feeling."