By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1
Despite dropping their first match of 2019 on the road Wednesday to the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Los Angeles Football Club has been dominating the league this season, thus far. And at the helm, is Captain Carlos Vela.
The 30-year-old forward has recorded eight goals and five assists with his eighth being in last weekend’s match against FC Cincinnati. Vela has also logged his first hat-trick in San Jose, California on March 30 in a 5-0 win.
LAFC may not be the King of the North anymore, but is Vela still the best in LA?
Let me explain.
Vela practically owns Team of the Week, having appeared in it for three consecutive weeks and is currently leading the league in four categories: (8) goals, (5) assists, (46) shots, and, (17) shots on goal and ranks third in the Audi Player Index Ratings. In addition to being voted the MLS Player of the Month for March of the 2019 MLS season.
Before joining the black-and-gold in 2018, Vela was already a well-decorated player. He is best known for his role on the Mexican National Team and for having stints with Arsenal and Real Sociedad. While with Arsenal he was loaned out to multiple clubs (Celta de Vigo, Salamanca, Osasuna, etc.) due to work permit restrictions that prevented from playing in England. But in 2008, Vela was granted a work permit and would go on to score eleven goals for the EPL team. In 2012, Carlos was officially transferred to Real Sociedad; recording 73 goals over a five-year span.
Vela was LAFC’s first-ever designated player signing from La Liga club Real Sociedad on August 11, 2017. In the agreement, he remained with his former club until January 1, 2018.
The club continues to break records this season. After setting the bar high during their inaugural season, the black-and-gold are still looking to push boundaries. This year alone, with six wins and a draw through seven games, “only 2012 Sporting Kansas City and 1996 LA Galaxy have done better,” each winning all of their seven opening matches.
Naturally, being placed at the top of everyone’s radar doesn’t come without a bit of controversy. Herculez Gomez and Sebastian Salazar of the Two on Tri podcast discussed if Vela is just “coasting” in MLS. They argue the Mexican International has not been performing at his best.
While some may agree with their sentiments: ‘do I think he’s coasting?’ Eh, somewhat. After comparing the past teams he’s played for, the forward does seem to pick and choose his moments. But Vela has taken on the captain role seriously and improved greatly since 2018.
Vela has yet to address the accusations. However, during a press conference last week the captain stated: he wants to be the best in MLS. And he’s off to a great start.
Of course, it is still early in the season to declare Vela the 2019 MVP; but as long as Carlos continues to develop throughout the course of this season – he can surely make 2019 his year.
Featured image: @daisyjsphotos on Instagram
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