MLS Preview and Prediction: Orlando City SC vs FC Dallas

Competition: Major League Soccer – Orlando City SC vs. FC Dallas

Venue: Citrus Bowl – Saturday, July 11 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Match Odds: Orlando City 7/5 – Draw 12/5 – FC Dallas 19/10

Match Preview

Orlando City take on FC Dallas on Saturday night for the first time in MLS at the Citrus Bowl.

Orlando are back on home soil after their 1-1 draw with Real Salt Lake last weekend, which has seen them draw on level points with Columbus Crew and New England Revolution. However the Lions have played two games less than their Eastern Conference opponents.

Although they sit third in the Eastern, the teams are split by fine margins, with second to seventh place separated by just four points.

Adrian Heath was under enormous pressure to turn things around, and three wins in their last five outings has seen his side on the up.

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Top scorer Kaka, will miss the game due to suspension after his red card last weekend. While second top scorer Cyle Larin is in Gold Cup action with Canada. Leaving Orlando light in front of goal.

FC Dallas play away from home for the sixth time in eight matches but bounced back after their impressive 3-0 rout over New England Revolution at Toyota Stadium last weekend.

Like Orlando, FC Dallas’ top scorer Blas Perez is unavailable as he is on International duty with Panama in the Gold Cup.

FC Dallas’ away form is something that does need to be addressed, in eight games on the road they have won just twice and lost six, which been their achilles heel.

Dallas will be hoping to capitalise on the fact Larin and Kaka are missing for Orlando and take all three points.

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Team News

Plenty of absentees from both teams due to Gold Cup commitments, Orlando City have Cyle Larin and Darwin Ceren away. Injuries to Kevin Molino (ACL), Martin Paterson (knee), Tony Cascio (back) Aurelien Collin (hamstring) and Brek Shea (groin) weaken the squad. Kaka’s suspension doesn’t make things any easier.

FC Dallas are without five players away on international duty; Tesho Akindele, Kyle Bekker, Moises Hernandez, Je-Vaughn Watson and Blas Pérez. They have no injury concerns.

Key Points

Orlando City last five in MLS: W/W/L/W/D

FC Dallas last five in MLS: D/L/D/W/W

Key Stat: Leaky – The two sides they have conceded forty five goals between them this season.

Key Player: Fabian Castillo – The Columbian has seven goals this season and five assists. He is Dallas’ leading scorer in the absence of Perez and he could take advantage of Orlando’s weakened squad.

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Score Prediction: 

Orlando City 0-1 FC Dallas – A tight affair between the two, but the one goal could sneak it especially with both teams light due to injuries and international commitments.

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STATS: Who is the most prolific striker in MLS?

With the 2015 MLS season well underway, it’s a great time to look at the top goalscorers in the league and just how prolific they really are.

Using statistics from Squawka, we take a look at the strikers who have scored five or more goals so far this term, and how their conversion rates compare:

Striker Goals Scored Total Shots Conversion Rate (%)
Clint Dempsey 7 18 39
Kei Kamara 7 43 16
Obafemi Martins 6 16 38
Octavio Rivero 6 43 14
Chris Wondolowski 6 34 18
Giles Barnes 6 38 16
Bradley Wright-Phillips 5 31 16
Jozy Altidore 5 16 31
Blas Perez 5 13 38

According to the statistics above, Clint Dempsey is the most prolific striker out of the pack as he has a conversion rate 39%.

There is a clear advantage with the Seattle Sounders going forward as both their forwards register conversion rates over 35% – further proof that Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey are an incredible strike force.

However, notice must be taken of how prolific Blas Perez has been for FC Dallas (38% conversion rate) as has Jozy Altidore on his return to MLS (31% conversion rate).

Who do you think has been the best striker in MLS this season?

MLS Preview and Prediction: Colorado Rapids vs FC Dallas

Competition: Major League Soccer – Colorado Rapids vs. FC Dallas 

Venue: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park – Friday, April 24th – 22:00 ET (03:00 BST)

Match Odds: Colorado Rapids 7/5 – Draw 12/5 – FC Dallas 9/5

Match Preview

Colorado Rapids entertain FC Dallas at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park is the reverse fixture of their staggering 4-0 away win just two weeks ago.

That win in Dallas was the Rapids’ first and only win of the season so far and was a scoreline nobody saw coming. They were brought back down to earth last weekend though with a 3-1 home loss to Seattle Sounders.

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Dallas ended their two-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over Toronto last weekend and head coach Oscar Pareja will not be expecting a repeat of that performance from two weeks ago in this one.

The Rapids sit at the foot of the Western Conference on six points, while Dallas are flying high in second, but the visitors will want to force their way to the top of the table as soon as possible and will be looking for all three points in Colorado this week.

Blas Perez is joint-second highest goalscorer in the league so he will be expecting to find the net but it will be a tough task against a fairly tight defensive unit.

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Pablo Mastroeni will know his side will be hard pushed to repeat their heroics from Toyota Stadium but will know his team have the upper-hand mentally and he desperately needs to get his side going to avoid falling further adrift at the bottom of the table.

Team News

Colorado Rapids have three injury concerns as Sam Cronin, Marc Burch and Dominique Badji could all be set to miss this one. Gabriel Torres played a key role in the 4-0 win, scoring once and assisting Dillon Serna, so Mastroeni will be hoping he can reproduce that display.

FC Dallas also have three concerns as Coy Craft, Stephen Keel and Dan Kennedy are all struggling with injuries. Blas Perez and Fabian Castillo have seven goals combined this season and their partnership could prove to be vital if they are to go all the way this season.

Key Points

Colorado Rapids’ last five: D/D/L/W/D

FC Dallas’ last five: W/D/L/L/W

Key Stat: Colorado Rapids’ only win of the season was against FC Dallas two weeks ago.

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Key Player: Fabian Castillo – The Colombian speedster has been impressive so far this campaign and can unnerve the calmest of defenders with his trickery and pace.

Score Prediction

Colorado Rapids 1-2 FC Dallas – Dallas will be hard pushed for a win here, but we can expect them to find a result and avoid another shocking day at the office.

MLS Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs Toronto

Competition: Major League Soccer – FC Dallas vs. Toronto FC

Venue: Toyota Stadium – Saturday, April 18th – 20:30 ET (01:30 BST)

Match Odds: FC Dallas 19/20 – Draw 5/2 – Toronto 18/5

Match Preview

FC Dallas host Toronto FC on Saturday evening at Toyota Stadium as they look to keep up the pressure on Vancouver Whitecaps at the top of the Western Conference.

Dallas started the season in fine form but now haven’t won in three games and Oscar Pareja needs to get his side back to winning ways.

Last week Dallas suffered a shock 4-0 defeat to lowly Colorado Rapids, which nobody would have predicted, and if they do not get back to winning ways this weekend it will be another dent in the Dallas players’ confidence.

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Toronto have lost their last three games on the bounce after their opening weekend win at Vancouver and sit ninth in the Eastern Conference.

Greg Vanney’s side have been a little unlucky with their last two losses, but they’re leaking goals and Dallas will be looking to exploit their backline on Saturday.

Summer signing, Sebastian Giovinco, has netted just the once so far this campaign and the Toronto faithful will be hoping he can settle in and start to deliver the goods to get them out of this slump.

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Both team will expect to make the playoffs come the end of the season and both need a win here to try and kickstart a run of form so it’s all to play for.

Team News

FC Dallas have four injury concerns as Coy Craft, Stephen Keel, Dan Kennedy and Mauro Diaz could all miss out. Blas Perez and Fabian Castillo can reignite Dallas if they can rediscover their form in this game and Toronto will need to be aware of the threat Tesho Akindele possesses.

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Toronto could be without five players as Steven Caldwell, Damien Perquis, Mark Bloom, Eriq Zavaleta and Clement Simonin are all recovering from injuries. Warren Creavalle will also be absent as he is suspended. Michael Bradley featured in the USA’s 2-0 win over Mexico on Wednesday night so he may well be a little heavy-legged towards the end of the game providing he starts.

Key Points

FC Dallas’ form: W/W/D/L/L

Toronto’s form: W/L/L/L

Key Stat: Dallas haven’t lost to Toronto since 2011 and given the Reds’ recent form, that run may well be extended beyond this weekend.

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Key Player: Blas Perez – The Dallas forward has the ability to get his side back on track if he is supplied with the service and his performance will be key.

Score Prediction

FC Dallas 1-1 Toronto – Both sides will be hoping they can end their barren run, but given neither has won in their last three we could see a tense and cagey affair. Nothing is certain however, as we saw last weekend with the Dallas score and Toronto would love to produce a similar performance to that of Colorado’s last Friday here.

MLS Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs Colorado Rapids

Competition: Major League Soccer –  FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids 

Venue: Toyota Stadium – Friday, April 10th – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: FC Dallas 4/6 – Draw 11/4 – Colorado Rapids 4/1

Match Preview

FC Dallas entertain Colorado Rapids at Toyota Stadium in this week’s Friday night game as teams at opposite ends of the Western Conference go head-to-head.

FC Dallas have enjoyed a great start to the season, sitting second in the Supporters’ Shield standings on ten points from their opening five games. They have lost only once so far and have to fancy their chances of another three points at home in this one.

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By contrast, Colorado Rapids have drawn three of their first four games and need to get that important first win of the season to get them off the foot of the Western Conference.

Dallas suffered a disappointing loss to the Portland Timbers last weekend and will be keen to get back to winning ways after two without a win now. The draw against Seattle Sounders isn’t a bad result but given their opening three wins, Oscar Pareja will be hoping for better this time out.

The worrying thing for Rapids coach, Pablo Mastroeni, is that his side haven’t actually scored a goal this season and that needs to change quickly to avoid it becoming a mental issue for his players.

The Colorado head coach won’t be able to direct his players from the touchline in this one though as he will serve a one-game suspension for the red card he received last weekend.

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Blas Perez has an impressive three in his first four games and will hope he can add to his tally against a Rapids backline that didn’t look as solid in last week’s defeat to New England.

Dallas won all three of last season’s meetings against Colorado and have won their last four home games against the Rapids and everything is point towards that becoming five in a row on Friday.

Team News

FC Dallas have four injury concerns as Coy Craft, Stephen Keel, Dan Kennedy and Mauro Diaz could all be set to sit this one out. Dallas will be looking to their in-form forwards, Blas Perez, Fabian Castillo and Tesho Akindele to all continue to shine, having scored six between them so far this season.

Colorado Rapids could be without five as Carlos Alvarez, Drew Moor and Sam Cronin are all set to miss out through injury. Axel Sjoberg and Marc Burch are doubtful but will be pushing for a place in the squad. A goal from anywhere on the field is what the Rapids need, just to get off the mark for the season will be a huge relief.

Key Points

FC Dallas form: W/W/W/D/L

Colorado Rapids form: D/D/D/L

Key Stat: Goalless – The Rapids haven’t found the net in 10 hours of MLS action now and need to turn things around quickly after equalling a league record of 18 consecutive games without a win.

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Key Player: Blas Perez – The Dallas forward is in fine form and will surely continue his goalscoring form in this one.

Score Prediction

FC Dallas 3-1 Colorado Rapids – Rapids off the mark but not able to stop Dallas getting back to winning ways in what should be a largely one-sided affair.

MLS Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs Seattle Sounders

Competition: Major League Soccer – FC Dallas vs Seattle Sounders

Venue: Toyota Stadium – Saturday, March 28 – 20:30 ET (00:30 GMT)

Match Odds: Dallas 6/5 – Draw 12/5 – Seattle 9/4

Match Preview

FC Dallas face Seattle Sounders on Saturday evening in a huge Western Conference clash that will see the home side’s credentials really tested after an impressive start.

Dallas are the only side in Major League Soccer with a 100% record after winning their first three games but they come up against one of the strongest sides in MLS in the shape of the Seattle Sounders this week.

The Sounders have had two weeks to prepare for this game after last weekend’s bye but they will be desperate to try and put in a fine performance to help forget that 3-2 home defeat to the San Jose Earthquakes two weeks ago.

Both sides will be without their goalscoring stars as Clint Dempsey and Blas Perez are one of several players away on international duty this week. Dempsey and Perez both have three goals each after just three weeks of the new season and will be missed.

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Dallas have only conceded one goal so far and have scored six on their way to the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings at this early stage. This is the first time they have won their opening three games since 1998 and they will want to make that four against the Sounders.

Once problem is that recent history suggests Seattle will ruin the high spirits around Dallas. The Sounders were the first side to beat Dallas in the 2014 season, putting an end to their unbeaten start in the sixth game of last campaign.

They also eliminated Dallas from the playoffs on the away goals rule last season after a 1-1 draw at Toyota Stadium.

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Seattle won the first two meetings last season but Dallas sealed a 3-1 victory at Toyota Stadium back in September before the two playoff draws.

This should be a close game and whoever can cope without their key names better will likely be victorious.

Team News

FC Dallas will be without Coy Craft (shoulder), Stephen Keel (foot) and Dan Kennedy (back) for the game while Michael Barrios is a doubt. Blas Perez, Kyle Bekker, Moises Hernandez and Je-Vaugn Watson are all absent on international duty.

Seattle are still without midfield enforcer Osvaldo Alonso (groin), while Tyrone Mears is a doubt with a slight hamstring problem. Clint Dempsey is out injured but would have missed the game through international commitments anyway. Marco Pappa is away with Guatemala and will not feature.

Key Points

FC Dallas’ form: W/W/W

Seattle Sounders’ form: W/L

Key Stat: FC Dallas have won 11 of their last 13 home games in MLS. They will hope to make this 12 from 14 on Saturday.

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Key Player: Fabian Castillo – The pacey winger has looked dangerous so far this season and will carry even more responsibility in the absence of Perez up top.

Score Prediction

FC Dallas 2-1 Seattle Sounders – This will be an interesting one because of the absences of Perez and Dempsey but Dallas should still be too strong for a Seattle side that looked disappointing against the Quakes last time out. Fabian Castillo and Tesho Akindele will still cause problems for the Sounders defence and home support should see Dallas make it four wins from four.

Podcast: FC Dallas, BWP’s Red Bulls & Liverpool vs United thoughts

In this week’s MLSGB Podcast, Zack Walford talks to Ben Ashton and Louis East from afar about FC Dallas‘ fine start to the new MLS season as well as Bradley Wright-Phillips and his New York Red Bulls side after their encouraging start. We also look back at last weekend’s huge Premier League clash between Liverpool and Manchester United and discuss Steven Gerrard after his red card cost the Reds.

We also have a brief chat about the international friendlies for both the USMNT and England National Team.

As always, be sure to get in touch on Twitter: @MLSGB_ or comment below about your thoughts on any of the topics discussed.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Philadelphia Union vs FC Dallas

Competition: Major League Soccer – Philadelphia Union vs FC Dallas

Venue: PPL Park – Saturday, March 21 – 16:00 ET (20:00 GMT )

Match Odds: Philadelphia Union 23/20 – Draw 23/10 – FC Dallas 12/5

Match Preview

Philadelphia Union take on FC Dallas at PPL Park on Saturday in gameweek three of the 2015 MLS season. 

The game was originally scheduled for Friday evening but was postponed due to snow, so will now be played on Saturday instead.

Philadelphia Union have drawn their first two games, although only a late Alvaro Saborio penalty narrowly denied the Union of their first win of the 2015 campaign in last weekend’s trip to Real Salt Lake, which ended 3-3 after a pulsating game.

FC Dallas are currently top of the Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings and as the only team that has won their first two games of the 2015 season, they will be full of confidence.

Philadelphia Head Coach Jim Curtin will probably see last weekend’s draw with RSL as a more positive result than the opening day 0-0 draw with the Colorado Rapids, but this game should be the toughest test so far and will provide a good marker of where the Union currently are.

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FC Dallas are a strong side, so if Philadelphia can secure all three points then it shows that they need to be taken seriously, although the Union haven’t won any of their last four home games in MLS, so they’ll need to break that trend.

Dallas edged a 1-0 victory on the first day of the season thanks to an injury time winner from Blas Perez against San Jose Earthquakes and then sealed an impressive 3-1 win over Sporting Kansas City at the Toyota Stadium last time out.

The trip to PPL Park will mark the first game on the road for head coach Oscar Pareja and his Dallas side who will be looking to continue their 100% winning record in 2015 by making it three out of three.

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Philadelphia have never beaten Dallas in eight attempts in all competitions (D5, L3), so they will be making history if they can secure a win on Friday night.

The last game between these two sides was a 1-1 draw in the US Open Cup in August 2014. FC Dallas came out on top in the last MLS clash with a 2-1 win in July 2014.

Despite the home advantage, Philadelphia Union will probably be seen as slight underdogs against a Dallas side that have made an extremely impressive start to the new campaign.

Team News

Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake is out with a knee injury and forward C. J. Sapong is also unlikely to feature as he has a fractured cheekbone. Midfielder Danny Cruz is suffering with a hamstring strain and missed the game with Real Salt Lake, so he may not be available.

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FC Dallas will be without defender Stephen Keel who is out with a foot injury. Dallas are likely to remain unchanged from the lineup that beat SKC last weekend.

Key Points

Philadelphia Union’s form: D/D

FC Dallas’s form: W/W 

Key Stat: There have been four red cards in seven MLS meetings between these two sides, so we could be in for a feisty encounter.

Key Player: Blas Perez – The experienced forward has notched three goals in his first two games of the 2015 season and he’s hit the ground running. Philadelphia have got a job on their hands to stop the 34-year-old.

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Score Prediction

Philadelphia Union 1-2 FC Dallas – FC Dallas have enjoyed the perfect start to the season and Philadelphia will make life difficult for them, but the visitors should just about edge this one.

MLS Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs Sporting Kansas City

Competition: Major League Soccer – FC Dallas vs Sporting Kansas City

Venue: Toyota Stadium – Saturday, March 14 – 20:30 ET (00:30 GMT – Sunday 15)

Match Odds: FC Dallas 23/20 – Draw 23/10 – Kansas City 12/5

Match Preview

FC Dallas host Sporting Kansas City at Toyota Stadium on Saturday night in a battle between two Western Conference sides that are expected to make the MLS Playoffs this year.

Dallas come into the game full of confidence after a late Blas Perez header earned them a 1-0 win against San Jose Earthquakes in front of their own fans last Saturday.

Sporting KC have moved to the West but faced Eastern Conference opposition in the New York Red Bulls last weekend, playing out a 1-1 draw at Sporting Park and they will be without Matt Besler for the trip to Dallas after the USMNT defender was sent off on Sunday night.

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Getting something to take back to Kansas City at Toyota Stadium is unlikely though as FC Dallas have won 10 of their last 12 at home in MLS.

Last year’s only meeting between the two ended 1-1 at Sporting Park with two goals in the last ten minutes sharing the points. The last meeting at Toyota Stadium came in 2013 and also ended as a draw.

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This will be the first of three meetings between Dallas and Sporting KC this season but both are likely to be battling at the top end of the Western Conference come the end of the regular season.

Saturday night’s game will be the 50th Major League Soccer game between the two clubs and it should be an entertaining one as the pair have scored 151 goals in the previous 49 meetings.

Team News

FC Dallas have no fresh injury concerns going into the game but will still be without Stephen Keel (foot) and Coy Craft (shoulder). Head coach Oscar Pareja is unlikely to make any changes to his side so Chris Seitz could retain his place in goal with Dan Kennedy settling for a place on the bench again.

Sporting Kansas City will be without Matt Besler as he serves a one-game suspension while Chance Myers is also out (achilles). Amadou Dia is likely to keep his place at right-back while Erik Palmer-Brown will come in to replace Besler and will hope to keep things tight at the back alongside Ike Opara.

Key Points

FC Dallas’ form: W

Sporting Kansas City’s form: D

Key Stat: Both sides have scored in each of the last six meeting between the clubs. There have been 23 goals in those past six games.

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Key Player: Blas Perez – Perez scored the winner in last week’s win against San Jose and ended the last campaign with five in his last seven. Expect him to be a threat again against an SKC defence that is going to have to cope without Besler.

Score Prediction

FC Dallas 2-1 Sporting Kansas City – The loss of Besler for this one is huge for Sporting KC and Dallas will look to benefit from that. It should be a close game but the home advantage should help see FC Dallas across the line.

5 young MLS stars to watch out for in 2015

With just the MLS Cup Final to play and the 2014 season close to completion, we take a look at five MLS prospects that have lit up the league this season and look set for bright futures.

These young stars are already key players on their teams but will only improve as time goes on and they could be set for huge campaign’s in 2015.

1. Diego Fagundez – New England Revolution

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At 19 years of age, Fagundez has become one of the brightest talents in MLS over the past two seasons having made a breakthrough with the New England Revolution. He has had limited game time since the arrival of USMNT star Jermaine Jones at the franchise.

But he should be set for a great 2015 campaign, and hopefully we will see him at some point in Sunday’s MLS Cup Final.

2. Fabian Castillo – FC Dallas

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Castillo is an explosive winger who is comfortable on either wing. His exceptional dribbling skills have left defenders dazed all season and adding ten goals to Dallas’s tally has made him a great asset for the team.

At just 22, we’re expecting big things from the young man.

3. Tesho Akindele – FC Dallas

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Major League Soccer Rookie of the Year, Akindele, has been superb since breaking into the team. Blas Perez is still the first-choice forward but with eight goals in 29 appearances Akindele has showed great promise.

He and Castillo could make Dallas even more of a force in MLS next season.

4. Gyasi Zardes – LA Galaxy

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The most prolific of our five picks, Zardes has become a key player for the Galaxy this year, and has been a valued partner for MLS MVP Robbie Keane. Netting 16 goals this term has made him a huge asset for LA and he should only improve heading into next season.

Can he finish off a great year with an MLS Cup winners medal on Sunday?

5. Joao Plata – Real Salt Lake

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At 5’2 he’s the shortest player in MLS history, yet he has an abundance of talent. Plata is a compact, yet explosive forward that is comfortable on either foot. He has finally settled in MLS after his stint at Toronto FC and looks at home with Real Salt Lake.

He netted 13 goals in 28 appearances this season and is huge threat for RSL. There is more to come from the Ecuadorian.

Who do you think is the best young talent in MLS right now?