All posts by avaraceli

Match Preview: LAFC vs. Montreal Impact

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club continues to cross teams off their revenge list. And FC Dallas was the latest victim.

The two clubs squared off in back-to-back matches with LAFC claiming revenge first as they handed Dallas their first loss in the series in a 2-0 win at the Banc of California Stadium. However, a few days later, the black-and-gold wrapped up another series by splitting points at Toyota Stadium.

Now the club will turn its focus onto another opponent coming in from the North, the Montreal Impact.

LAFC will host the Impact for the first time for their second meeting. The first time these clubs met was in Montreal on April 21, 2018, in which the black-and-gold claimed all three points in a 5-3 win.

Graphics courtesy of the MLS app

The Impact currently holds a 4-4-2 record on the road, while LAFC remains undefeated at home (6-0-1).

Players to look for:

Carlos Vela is not human. There, I said it.

The Mexican captain scored a single goal in both matches of the Dallas series – adding to his already rising MLS career goal account. And he is one goal away from surpassing his previous 2018 total of 14 goals.

Andre Horta and Lee Nguyen made their long-awaited return to the pitch as late substitutions on May 16. A few days later, the duo appeared in the starting lineup for Sunday’s match along with Mohamed El-Munir.

And of course, I like to take a quick moment to recognize two players who’ve reached new career milestones this week:

  • Walker Zimmerman has now played 10,000 minutes in MLS.
  • Steven Beitashour became the first defender in MLS history with 35+ assists and 20,000+ minutes played.

One player out on injury:

Bradley again will nearly have a full roster to choose from with only Steven Beitashour out due to a left hamstring strain, an injury he picked up in the last match against FC Dallas. Alejandro Guido is listed as questionable.

Projected LAFC Starting XI

(4-3-3): Tyler Miller; Jordan Harvey, Eddie Segura, Walker Zimmerman, Josh Perez; Eduard Atuesta, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Latif Blessing; Diego Rossi, Christian Ramirez, Carlos Vela.

Piatti returns:

The Impact welcomed back Ignacio Piatti, after a two-month injury in a scoreless draw against the New England Revolution last weekend.

However, similar to the return of Horta and Nguyen, Piatti appeared as a second-half sub when he entered for Mathieu Choinière in the 66th minute. So I wouldn’t rule out a starting position but given Friday’s contest will be his second game back – he could start on the bench.

Montreal Impact’s Roster:

Montreal has three players out that could impact them:

Defender Clement Bayiha and midfielder Omar Browne are out due to injury.

Samuel Piette will also miss the match because of yellow card accumulation. Piette received his fifth caution in the last match against the New England Revolution snapping his club record of 51 consecutive starts. His disappearance in the midfield could give the home side an advantage.

Projected Montreal Impact Starting XI

(4-3-3): Evan Bush; Zachary Brault-Guillard, Zakaria Diallo, Jukka Raitala, Daniel Lovitz; Shamit Shome, Michael Azira, Saphir Taider; Orji Okwonkwo, Maxi Urruti, Mathieu Choinière.

What is your match prediction?

Photo credit: Daisy Jimenez/mlsfemale

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Sporting KC falls in tough 1-0 loss on the road

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Sporting Kansas City fell to D.C. United in a steep 1-0 loss on a rainy afternoon at Audi Field on Sunday night.

The injury list continues to grow with Graham Zusi now joining the ranks due to an oblique injury. Although both veterans (Matt Besler and Zusi) were listed as questionable, neither one appeared in the eighteen – giving Ilie Sanchez the opportunity to wear the captain’s band for the first time. The match also marked Seth Sinovic‘s 200th career MLS start. As well, introduced an old friend back to the lineup, Benny Feilhaber.

English captain Wayne Rooney was the first to test Tim Melia in the 14th minute – when he fired a strike from 25 yards out. Fortunately, the 31-year-old keeper made a full-stretch save to punch the ball away from the danger. Melia would go on to make a total of three saves.

Given ten players were out due to injury and only four players, including the goalkeeper, available on the bench, Sporting KC did well to hold the host scoreless into the second half.

Paul Arriola would finally break the goalless drought in the 78th minute when Wayne Rooney passed a perfect ball to Arriola, who then tucked it in the net by mere inches.

The goal gave the visitors an energy boost as they went on to create two solid opportunities in the final twelve minutes. But it wouldn’t be enough. Krisztian Nemeth instantly received a chance to equalize when he jumped on a giveaway and carried the ball toward goal, but his near-post shot goes wide.

A final chance at redemption saw late-half substitute Kelyn Rowe curl in a ball into a crowded box to find Graham Smith, but his header goes wide ending the match in a 1-0 loss.

Sporting KC’s winless skid continues. Now the club will have a three-game stretch at home, so hopefully, they can pick up some points at CMP before heading on the road for four-straight matches. First up, the club will host the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, May 18.

Featured image: @sportingkc

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The Kings of the West: LAFC bounces back in 3-0 win over Columbus Crew

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club returned to its winning ways in a 3-0 win over the Columbus Crew at MAPFRE stadium on Saturday. Mark-Anthony Kaye, Adama Diomande and Carlos Vela scored all three winning goals of the night.

With a full roster available, there were no changes in the lineup. Tristian Blackmon was among the players who returned to the bench. In what was arguably a must-win situation for the Crew, I’m not sure if the pressure from LAFC but the home side made a lot of mistakes. And the Black-and-Gold was able to capitalize on those easy opportunities.

LAFC had two solid chances to open the scoring with Kaye and Diego Rossi after the whistle blew. Kaye tried to sneak one in past Joe Bendik, unfortunately, his low shot whizzed past the post. In the 31st minute, Rossi hit a curler off of a cross from the Mexican international. But it glided just slightly over the crossbar.

However, the club earned another chance to score in the 37th minute, as Latif Blessing served the 24-year-old midfielder the ball from the top of the box and Kaye flawlessly kicked the ball home.

The Crew was in pursuit of the equalizer and nearly got their opportunity as Robinho sent a pass to Pedro Santos, who fired a rocket down the center. Fortunately, Tyler Miller was in the right place at the right time and came up huge to deny Santos in the 59th minute – earning his fifth clean sheet.

In the 74th minute, the Crew almost pull level but former LA Galaxy forward, Gyasi Zardes saw his goal called back after being called offsides.

The latter part of the half saw all the action with back-to-back goals by Diomande and Vela. First up, a crucial error and a substitution hot off the bench secured the lead for the Black-and-Gold. Josh Perez ran the ball outside the net deflecting off the post, and miscommunication between Bendik and Jonathan Mensah – gave Diomande the opening he needed to hit the rebound to double the score.

Moments later, it was the captain’s turn. It came off of Vela’s dangerous left foot into the back of the net – scoring his 12th goal of the season.

The boys rallied in the final minutes of stoppage time to secure the 3-0 victory and remain atop of the Western Conference standings.

The club will return to LA with all three points and gear up for another two-game series with FC Dallas. LAFC will host them on Thursday, May 16 and then travel to Dallas for the second leg just three days later.

Photo credit: Columbus Crew

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LAFC Weekly Roundup: Carlos Vela, Match Preview, Gold Links

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Columbus, here we come!

Coming off back-to-back draws, LAFC will look to return to its winning form as they travel to MAPFRE stadium to face the Columbus Crew this Saturday, May 11.

LAFC is currently leading the all-time series with one win on June 23 in a 2-0 victory at the Banc of California stadium. However, the Black-and-Gold fell to the Crew during the preseason. Saturday marks the third meeting between the clubs

*Image provided by the MLS’ app

Mark-Anthony Kaye, Eduard Atuesta, and Latif Blessing remain a dangerous trio in the midfield. Eddie Segura and Walker Zimmerman are becoming a stronger pair every match. The two center backs may not be able to speak the same language. But they allow the universal language of football to speak for them. And the with a roster back to full health, the club will hopefully utilize every opportunity.

Especially after the Crew defeated the New England Revolution on Wednesday in a 5-0 win – following a five-game losing streak and will likely enter this weekend’s match as a must-win situation.

What are your match predictions?

Back at full health

The roster seems to be back at full health with only defender Danilo Silva and midfielders Alejandro Guido and Javi Pérez listed as questionable.

Head Coach Bob Bradley has nearly a full team to choose from as there are no players out for tomorrow’s competition.

Adama Diomande and Andre Horta appeared in the eighteen last week coming off of long injuries. Dio entered the match in the 75th minute for Steven Beitashour – whom also returned to the starting XI due to injury.

With another two-game series within days of each other on the horizon – I am expecting a little rotation in the roster, if not on the bench for Columbus.

Projected LAFC Starting XI

(4-3-3): Tyler Miller; Jordan Harvey, Eddie Segura, Walker Zimmerman, Steven Beitashour; Eduard Atuesta, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Latif Blessing; Diego Rossi, Christian Ramirez, Carlos Vela.

Carlos Vela earns back-to-back MLS Player of the Month honors

There is really no stopping the Mexican International captain at this point.

On Tuesday, Carlos Vela was voted the MLS Player of the Month for the month of April of the 2019 MLS season. Along with back-to-back MLS honors – Vela is dominating the league in three categories: goals (11), shots (60), and shots on goal (24).

According to LAFC’s Digital Manager, Vince La Rosa: Vela becomes just the seventh-ever player to earn the honors in consecutive months after earning Player of the Month accolades in the first month of the 2019 campaign.

The club’s captain finished April with five goals and two assists over five contests, helping the Black-and-Gold earn a 3-1-1 record. His 16 combined goals and assists are also the most by any player in the opening 10 games of a season in MLS history.

Gold Links

Photo credit: Imad Bolotok IG // @imadshoots

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Sporting KC falls to Atlanta United 3-0

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Sporting Kansas City fell to Atlanta United 3-0; snapping their home unbeaten run on Sunday night at Children’s Mercy Park. It was the first time the home team lost to the reigning MLS Cup Champions.

With multiple injuries plaguing the roster – and missing key starters like Matt Besler and Roger Espinoza – Vermes fielded an almost unrecognizable lineup with only five subs available on the bench. Two of which earned their first MLS starts – Graham Smith and Gedion Zelalem (made his club debut). Kelyn Rowe and Botond Barath returned to the starting XI.

Sporting KC kicked off the match with a good opportunity when Graham Zusi unleashed a long-range curler that carried marginally beyond the right-hand post. Shortly thereafter, Atlanta’s Pity Martinez cut centrally onto his left foot and dragged a low shot wide of the near post.

The home side would earn another chance after Krisztian Nemeth could have recorded his 11th off a corner kick by Johnny Russell in the 13th minute, but his glancing header on the edge of the six-yard box missed the mark.

And then it stopped?

With both sides holding close to equal possession and overall passing accuracy, it seemed they locked in a game of keep away, as they passed the ball back-and-forth without creating any solid chances for a full 15 minutes.

*Writer’s note: I’m not suggesting no one was trying to create an opportunity, I just found the situation odd.

Just as it appeared the match would go scoreless into halftime, Josef Martinez opened the scoring for Atlanta in the 39th minute after retrieving the rebound off of Tim Melia at short range. Martinez went down briefly after a collision with the keeper. But he returned to the pitch uninjured to score the game winner in the 76th minute.

Two minutes after the restart, Atlanta doubled the lead. Sporting failed to clear a loose ball at the top of the penalty area and a shot fell invitingly to Ezequiel Barco, who made right-footed strike down the middle into the left side of the post.

Melia did well to deny the 20-year-old nine minutes later, then produced another reflex stop on a strike from Miles Robinson.

Down by two, Sporting KC ran the ball down to try to close the gap and earned two solid opportunities in the process. But as the script goes, Kelyn Rowe’s thunderous effort from the top of the box was blocked and Nemeth’s 22-yard curler skimmed over the woodwork.

In the 65th minute, the energy changed as Ilie entered the match in a double substitution.

Ilie did not appear once in training this past week and he was listed as questionable. So it’s understandable the predicament Vermes was forced into. And one he will probably see himself again:

“The problem is I don’t have the whole team available. It’s not just one guy. When you have a team – and every team has their starters – to then have to supplant all those guys with new players, it’s very hard.”

Regardless, the Spaniard still had a solid attempt shortly after Russell cuts into the middle and forces Guzan into a leaping save with a left-footed curler that bounced off the top corner in the 73rd minute. But the striker couldn’t put his strike within the frame.

Ultimately, it was Martinez’s second goal that gave Sporting KC their first loss of the season at home in a 3-0 deficit.

Even though frustration filled the locker room, the team remains optimistic about the future. Especially with the newcomers earning more playing opportunities:

“I thought the two center backs did a really good job. It’s a quality team with a lot of attacking minded players that are really good at combining and for the most part, till maybe the 70th minute we did a really good job shutting [Atlanta] down.” Melia told the press.

Seth Sinovic added: “I think everyone had their moments. I think everybody got the opportunity to improve, not just the new guys but the experienced guys. And it’s on the experience guys that have not only played a lot of games in the league but a lot of games in a sporting uniform – we have to be better leaders. We got to do a better job and we’re not filling that job right now.”

Next up, Sporting KC will travel to Audi Field to face Wayne Rooney and D.C. United for the first time.

“We have to concentrate on our first day back at training. Making sure we’re doing everything there [..] we build them correctly for the game against [D.C. United],” said Melia. “We just got to get back to being us. And look at one game at a time.”

Featured image: Peaty Romano

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Sporting Kansas City faces a rocky journey as injuries continues to rise

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Slow starts and multiple injuries plague the club. But can Sporting Kansas City bounce back before it’s too late?

Sporting KC is currently in eighth place in the Western Conference standings, under Real Salt Lake – who fell to the LA Galaxy this past weekend. Even though they are undefeated at home, the defense is suffering due to multiple injuries. A list that is still dangerously growing.

The club confirmed on Wednesday morning, Gerso Fernandes underwent surgery for a broken wrist – now joining a long list of injuries:

  • Matt Belser (hamstring strain)
  • Roger Espinoza (PCL sprain)
  • Rodney Wallace (hip)
  • Jaylin Lindsey (torn meniscus)
  • Jimmy Medranda (knee)
  • Erik Hurtado (knee)

Only Besler is expected to return within the next month. Jimmy Medranda is set to return in June or July after a lengthy absence. This week he returned to training as a “neutral player,” which Manager Peter Vermes called: a step in the right direction.

The injuries are also affecting training as Tuesday’s training session was canceled due to a limited amount of players available – nine players were out. “This is the most guys we’ve ever had out,” Vermes told the press.

Midfielder Ilie Sanchez echoed similar frustrations:

“That’s unlucky for us. We are struggling in that area. […] Because fútbol is a contact sport. You are constantly getting hit [and] in pain. Most of those injured are coming from that contact against the opponent. This will change and we will get better. We will get players recovered, so that will help the team to have better dynamics.”

Although Sporting Kansas City is not the only MLS team to participate in the Concacaf Champions League this year, I was still wary of the effects it could have on the roster in the long run. The team had a great run in the CCL but it clearly came with a cost.

But it’s not over, yet. Even though we would normally see these type of injuries during the mid-season, it’s still early in the season for Sporting KC to turn things around.

Can we get players from the USL side, Swope Park Rangers? Technically, yes.

When asked about the possibility, Vermes explained:

“The problem is, the mechanisms are not in our favor. So we have to drop below fourteen available players before we can actually pull a player from the Swope Park Rangers for a short term loan. So it’s a catch 22, you don’t want to be in that place but then again – maybe you do, because you need the players.”

Though it is important to note that Vermes hope we’re “returning players” to avoid that situation.

The team will most likely have to rely on Daniel Salloi – who has been doing well at training. Along with Johnny Russell, Kristztián Nemeth, Graham Zusi, etc. while their teammates recover. Plus, Gianluca Busio and Tyler Freeman are with the United States U-17s.

Sporting KC is set to host reigning MLS Cup Champions Atlanta United on Sunday, May 5. And looking forward, the players are staying optimistic.

“It’s mental and hopefully that throughout this week, we look back and see the things we have – obviously with the injuries. And the fact that we do need to jell together as a team in different positions. Hopefully, this week we’ll determine that,” Kelyn Rowe stated.

Featured image: Sporting KC

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MLS players and their superhero equivalents: Avengers Edition

Feature Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Avengers: Endgame finally hits theaters tonight!

But what if instead of superheroes, this band of misfits was populated with MLS’ best players? Voted by the staff of MLSFemale, here are our top picks of who could fill in for Cap, Iron Man and the rest of the Avengers*:

Iron Man – Samuel Piette

Genius playboy billionaire philanthropist – this is how Tony Stark describes himself. Piette is the Iron Man of Montreal. That’s it.

Piette is a young defensive midfielder with a strong work ethic and desire to help the team. Like Stark, when on the defense, he is aggressive, strong and physical. But offensively, he is simple and effective with his passing and keeps the team in possession.

However, Piette is genuine, unlike his superhero counterpart.


Captain America – Aaron Long

Cap has a shield, a good piece of defense. Aaron Long is a great defender – so much so that he won the 2018 MLS Defender of the Year and has captained the USMNT.

The main difference between them is that one is scientifically enhanced to achieve peak human perfection – the other just thinks he is.


Thor – Johnny Russell

Because he’s basically a god now.

The Norse god of thunder and Scottish forward do have similar features. Similar to how Thor wields his mighty hammer to create thunder and lighting – Russell’s thunderous strikes can dismantle an enemy.


The Incredible Hulk – Nick Rimando

Nick Rimando’s physique is so similar to the rampant superhero Hulk that his fans nicknamed him Hulk itself – a name by which he is better known.

The footballer Hulk has a lot of similarities with our Gamma-ray affected superhero. Both Hulks are quite normal human beings when they aren’t angry. But when they are angry, which doesn’t happen very often, they dismantle everything that lies in their path – and, on a lot of occasions, that even ends up hurting their own team.


Hawkeye – Carlos Vela

Master archer Clint Barton can hit basically any target with his incredible pin-point accuracy. Vela can do the same with a crossfield pass. Just look at his stats.


Loki – Diego Valeri

Valeri is an enigmatic figure, sometimes the hero, sometimes the villain. Like Loki, he can do magical things, but maybe his greatest skill is being a master manipulator, playing five-dimensional chess with his own image rights.


Ant-Man – Latif Blessing

Modern footballers, not unlike a lot of superheroes, can be a solemn and humorless bunch sometimes.

So just like how Ant-Man was a breath of fresh air in the MCU, Latif Blessing is truly a blessing in disguise. The forward loves to goof around and showing off his dancing skills. But like Scott Lang, he gets focused when called into duty.

He probably got excited about meeting world-renowned footballers the same way Ant-Man did with Cap.


Black Panther – Alberth Elis

Do I need more proof?

I can already hear Shuri telling her big brother, “what are those?”


Doctor Strange – Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Has Zlatan ever been snapped wearing a cloak? I can totally imagine him swanning around in a massive cloak. He’s already got both the dodgy facial hair and the ability to manipulate reality to create space and time around him – all he needs is the cloak to truly become the Sorcerer Supreme of the football world.

And like Doctor Strange, no one is sure exactly what he does.


Spider-Man – Maxi Moralez

With great power comes great responsibility.

Maximiliano Moralez or better known as “Maxi,” is well-known for his web-slinging celebrations. And similar to his superhero counterpart, he uses his spidey senses to pick out certain players in tight situations and spins the ball around opponents to catch them in his web.


Star-Lord – Dom Dwyer

Their personalities. Enough said.

Dom could be the hero sometimes but his ego can get the best of him costing the whole team in the end. Right, Quill?


Groot – Roman Torres

The resemblance is uncanny.


The Vision – Wayne Rooney

Neither is the most powerful on the roster. But they still manage to help the team with their superhuman abilities.

Plus, Rooney is basically Paul Bettany’s doppelgänger.

*Writer’s note: For the purpose of this article, we have condensed the list of Marvel characters greatly.

Featured image of Avengers: Endgame poster from Forbes.com

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LAFC hops over Seattle Sounders in 4-1 win

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Following a mid-week disaster on the road in Vancouver, the Los Angeles Football Club came back in the biggest way possible by handing the Seattle Sounders their first season loss in a 4-1 victory on Sunday at the Banc of California Stadium.

Donning the new vibrant navy blue Parley jerseys for Earth Day weekend, LAFC was unstoppable from start to finish. They held 58% possession, used space to keep the ball in the center of the pitch – creating dangerous plays in the visitor’s box. Additionally, the match saw the return of Lee Nguyen, who missed the last three matches due to an injury; he entered as a substitution for Steven Beitashour in the 89th minute.

Carlos Vela has been on fire this season and last night was no different, as the forward snagged the early lead in the 12th minute for the black-and-gold. The Mexican captain would go on to score his 10th goal of the season in the 55th minute answering Harry Shipp’s goal – which got Seattle on the board, four minutes prior. Last season he recorded 14 goals total and is well on his way to breaking that record. But he wasn’t the only one having a good night.

Mark-Anthony Kaye and Eduard Atuesta had a dominant performance, with both in the heart of midfield. The duo ran the show with a combined one goal and four assists. They were, as MLS’ Jonathan Sigal described, “tempo-setters, disruptive forces, creators and finishers.” With the addition of Latif Blessing, the trio provided LAFC the control it needed.

Of course, we need to talk about Christian Ramirez. His goal might not win Goal of the Week, but what a beautiful play it was. He back-heeled centrally to Kaye, who then sent a through ball straight through the back line and Ramirez curled it home from close range. What is even more admirable, is that not even 10 minutes after making the goal, Ramirez rushed back to the home side’s net to help prevent a dangerous opportunity from Seattle.

Even though Shipp managed to slip past Tyler Miller in the 51st minute, the 26-year-old keeper came up huge twice to preserve LAFC’s undefeated at home streak.

The remainder of the match saw LAFC try to add a fifth goal to the total but Stefan Frei denied Peter-Lee Vassell from a close range – ending the match 4-1.

LAFC won round one of the ‘Best in the West’ battle, remaining atop the Western Conference. The club will travel to Seattle, where the Sounders are undefeated at Century Link Stadium for round two next Sunday.

Featured image: Mark-Anthony Kaye IG // @markthewizzz

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Carlos Vela: Is he the next rising King of MLS?

Official LAFC Reporter

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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Busio secures 2-2 Draw for Sporting KC against New York Red Bulls

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Just three days after being eliminated from the 2019 Concacaf Champions League in a semifinal defeat to Monterrey, Sporting Kansas City returned to MLS action. And their return did not go as expected as they earned a 2-2 draw against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday night at Children’s Mercy Park.

New York had entered Sunday with a three-game losing streak and successfully avoided a fourth straight defeat thanks to improved performance in the second half. It was the first time Sporting KC hosted their East Coast rivals since the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final.

On the brink of falling below the line in the standings, Sporting KC displayed a sense of urgency after Gerso Fernandes created instant danger for the visitors after going down to the left side to send in a cross. Five minutes later, Felipe Gutierrez forced a diving save from Luis Robles.

Johnny Russell came close to earning the early goal in the 10th minute after dismantling the Red Bulls’ defense however his close-range shot missed the net by mere inches. Moments later, the Scotsman notched the game opener with a low strike in the 24th minute; scoring his fourth goal this season.

Sporting KC led the match 1-0 into halftime. But it wouldn’t take long for New York to flip the script and level the match. Shortly after the restart, Daniel Royer broke through SKC’s defense and got around Tim Melia for the equalizer.

Brian White doubled the Red Bulls’ lead in the 75th minute with a diving header – following a sequence of plays from Kaku and Aaron Long.

Is Gianluca Busio Sporting KC’s new secret weapon? Maybe.

Fresh off the bench, the 16-year-old struck the equalizer past Robles to secure the draw for the home side in the 88th minute, as he did in Cincinnati last weekend. Graham Zusi’s low drive through a crowded penalty area reached the young Sporting KC Academy product, who coolly steered the ball home from close range to record his fourth career MLS goal.

During the final minutes of stoppage time, a mass confrontation broke out after Red Bulls’ Kaku sent a strike into the stands at point-blank range. This act caused the home side to jump to the fan’s defense, invoking a two squad square off.

*Watch the full clip here

Kaku was ultimately shown a red for violent conduct and ejected from the match. Sibiga then issued cautions to Luis Robles and Krisztian Nemeth for unsporting behavior in the brawl. Following the final whistle, players from both sides greeted the fan and to see if he was doing well.

Fight club antics aside, after facing three consecutive teams from the Eastern Conference – Sporting KC will return to the road in the West when they travel to San Jose to face the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, April 20.

Featured image: Araceli Villanueva

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