TORONTO - Ecuador forward Joao Plata is still with Toronto FC — at least for now.
Earl Cochrane, the team's director of team and player operations, said Wednesday during a conference call Plata is still with the club, although Toronto FC continues to work on securing a loan agreement for Plata to suit up with his former club LDU Quito in his native country.
Cochrane delivered a similar message regarding Plata's status Saturday, although he added loan agreement talks are further along now than they were Saturday. To that end, Cochrane was hopeful a loan deal could be reached by the weekend and bristled somewhat when told that newspapers in Ecuador said Plata was there with his family would begin practising with his new team Thursday.
"The reality of the situation is he's a Toronto FC player, he will remain a Toronto FC player during the course of that loan," Cochrance said. "I don't know what to say other than what I'm telling you is the situation.
"You can speak to Ecuadorian news reports, you can speak to Twitter reports. What I'm telling you is the truth that we are working through the specifics of that six-month loan agreement, we think that's the best environment for Joao to continue his development and at the end of six months he will be a Toronto FC player again.''
The five-foot-two, 135-pound Plata suggested in a tweet the deal was done.
''Ready to leave tomorrow for Ecuador, thank u 4 everything to all the TFC fans, I hope to comeback one day,'' said the tweet, which was issued Tuesday.
Cochrane said Plata missed Toronto FC's practice Tuesday but added the player has never told club officials he wants to be moved. However, Cochrane added the MLS club has approached the league's head office about how to deal with Plata's absence because Toronto FC was expecting Plata to travel with the club for games Wednesday night in Dallas and Saturday night in Philadelphia.
"Because of that we're speaking with the league office to determine how to best handle this situation," Cochrane said. "One of those options could very well be some disciplinary action.''
Plata had three goals and five assists in 26 games (21 starts) with Toronto FC last season. He had accumulated no points in 10 games (seven starts) so far in 2012.
Cochrane dismissed suggestions this situation is one involving a rogue player looking to facilitate his own move.
"I don't think he's forcing our hand or he has gone rogue or any of that sort of thing," Cochrane said. "I just think the dynamics of this situation are different.
"Had it been any club in the world we would be announcing it on Friday or Saturday or whenever it actually occurs and then everything would be fine. But it just happens to be a club that he was at prior to coming here. The dynamics of that are a little bit different, the communication between that club and him was probably premature, how he handled that social media and everything was not the way to deal with it.''
Cochrane added Toronto FC isn't working on a loan agreement as a knee-jerk reaction to anything Plata has done or said.
"This isn't a sudden thing," he said. "We've been having exploratory discussions regarding this and a potential loan for several months.
"I don't want anyone to think that this has been a sudden thing or that our hand has been forced in any way by any club. This has been something we've been talking about for a while.''
Plata has two more years on his MLS contract although he is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury. Cochrane said if the loan agreement somehow falls through, Toronto FC would have no problem welcoming Plata back with open arms.
"That is a very distant possibility but that's why I'm making the point that we're a little bit unhappy with the circumstances because it could happen," Cochrane said. "This situation puts us in an awkward spot but it's one we're going to have to deal with and get through.
"Again, we're talking about a 19-, 20-year-old player who is being pulled in a couple of different directions and one of those directions is by a former club. I don't see a problem that if it fell through that we'd have any issue bringing the player back.''