TORONTO – Joao Plata scored once and set up another goal in his Major League Soccer debut Saturday as Toronto FC beat the Houston Dynamo 2-1.
After Toronto forward Nick Soolsma was taken down in the Houston penalty area by Andre Hainault, Plata, a 19-year-old Ecuadorian with lightning quick feet, stepped up to the penalty spot. He deposited a shot into the top left corner past a helpless goalkeeper Tally Hall in the 50th minute.
Plata was mobbed by teammates after running to the corner flag in front of the supporters' section to celebrate.
Plata then turned playmaker in the 81st minute, sending a through ball to second-half substitute Maicon Santos for a 2-0 lead.,
Houston (3-3-3) got one back in the 87th minute from Lovel Palmer.
A crowd of 20,259 was on hand at BMO Field to see Toronto get just its second victory this season.
Plata, who was given a rousing ovation when he was subbed out in second-half stoppage time, was the most dangerous player on the field all night and thought he'd earned a second penalty kick in the 61st minute. The 6-foot-2 striker moved in on Hall, who appeared to bring him down. Referee Jorge Gonzalez initially pointed to the spot and gave Hall a yellow card.
But after conferring with the linesman, Gonzalez reversed his decision and awarded Houston a free kick, apparently believing that Plata dived.
It looked early on as if Toronto's scoring troubles in the league would continue. Coming into Saturday, the team scored just three goals in MLS play since trading captain Dwayne De Rosario to New York two games into the season.
After a first half with little offensive flair, Toronto came out with more vigor, and Plata carried it to victory.