Tag Archives: Carlos Vela

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.

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LAFC Shakes Up San Jose In 5-0 Win

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club continued their undefeated run in a 5-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium on Saturday – the largest win in club history.

As fans shook the stadium (literally!), LAFC wasted little time gaining possession as the midfield devastated San Jose’s approach. The trio: Mark-Anthony Kaye, Eduard Atuesta, and Latif Blessing, were all well in sync leading the way.

In the eight minute, Daniel Vargas’ error would leave an open net for the Mexican captain as he casually walked in a goal to open the scoring account for the visitors.

Former Quakes, Steven Beitashour and Diego Rossi, also added a goal of their own, respectively. Rossi nearly got the early lead in the fifth minute; after forcing a turnover he found himself 1-on-1 with the goal but his shot was saved.

Although San Jose won in terms of possession at 52.1%, LAFC was sharp in retrieving the ball after losing it. The Earthquakes did manage to break through LAFC’s defense twice but saw both opportunities saved by Tyler Miller – who earned his first clean sheet of the season.

Carlos Vela. Let’s take a quick moment to appreciate this captain. Vela, who continues to lead the league has scored some special goals during his tenure with LAFC, but his hat trick proved to be his best. It was his 20th since his arrival in the MLS, and sixth this season.

After bagging his second goal just before the half, it wouldn’t take long for the Mexican International to curl home his first hat trick in the 66th minute.

LAFC remains on the road as they travel to Audi Field to face Wayne Rooney and company on Saturday, April 6.

Photo credit: LAFC

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LAFC Weekly Roundup: Carlos Vela’s Home Run, Loans, National Team Call-Ups, Gold Links

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Vela leads LAFC to 2-2 Draw in New York

Last weekend, the luck of the Irish was on LAFC’s side as they earned a hard-fought point on the road in a 2-2 draw against New York City FC on Sunday.

Carlos Vela continues to be the most influential player by keeping the ball moving, bagging a pair of goals to extend LAFC’s undefeated streak for a remarkable start of their 2019 campaign.

Missing Lee Nyguen and Steven Beitashour due to injuries, LAFC pushed through. An uneven playing surface proved to be problematic for the first half but LAFC adjusted to regain more control in the midfield; it was less effective. But the strategy wreaked havoc for NYCFC.

Click here for the full recap

But the main story is the supporters who traveled to the match. Around 200 to 300 supporters’ chants were loud and clear on FS1’s broadcast for the full 90 minutes. It felt like I was back at the Banc.

Loans. Loans. Loans.

Last week, LAFC announced they have loaned four players to USL side, Phoenix Rising FC – defenders Tristian Blackmon and Shaft Brewer Jr., midfielder Javier Perez, and forward Josh Perez.

According to the club statement: “Per the Right of Recall incorporated in the loan agreements, LAFC retains the right to call the players at any point during the MLS regular season, subject to MLS roster compliance guidelines.”

Blackmon, Brewer Jr., and Perez have spent time with Phoenix last season. This will be Javier Perez’s first loan in the USL Championship.

International Duty

It’s a player’s dream to receive a call-up for national duty. And for LAFC, several players’ dreams became a reality as Christian Ramirez, Peter-Lee Vassell, Mark Anthony Kaye, and Mohamed El-Munir have been called in to serve their national teams, respectively.

All five players will miss this weekend’s home match against Real Salt Lake.

Here’s the breakdown:

Christian Ramirez – United States of America

The Santa Ana native is no stranger to the United States Men’s National Team after spending time in the January camp with fellow teammates, Tyler Miller and Walker Zimmerman.

His past performances, which were highlighted by scoring a goal in the 3-0 win over Panama, earned him another call-up when USMNT’s head coach Gregg Berhalter released the roster for upcoming friendlies against Ecuador and Chile.

Ramirez did not appear in the USMNT’s 1-0 win over Ecuador on Thursday night in Orlando, Florida. But he could have a chance to appear as the USMNT takes on Chile on Tuesday, March 26 in Houston, Texas.

Peter-Lee Vassell – Jamaica

The 21-year-old has made two substitute appearances for the black-and-gold this season. Jamaica faces El Salvador on March 23 in Concacaf Nations League play.

The Reggae Boyz currently have three wins in the competition.

Mark-Anthony Kaye – Canada

After missing the remainder of 2018 due to an ankle injury, Kaye started in the first two LAFC matches.

Kaye will join the likes of Alphonso Davies, Jonathan Osorio, and Cyle Larin the 23-man squad. Canada faces French Guiana on March 24, needing a win to secure its place in the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.

Mohamad El-Munir – Libya

El-Munir has appeared on the roster for the first three matches but has yet to make his club debut. Libya is set to take on South Africa on March 24 in Group E of Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.

Josh Perez – US U-23 squad

The United States’ Under-23 Men’s National Team will play its first matches of the 2020 U-23 cycle with a pair of friendlies in San Pedro del Pinatar, Spain; the first under newly named manager Jason Kreis.

Included on the twenty-three man roster is LAFC forward Josh Perez, who joined LAFC in August before going on loan to Phoenix Rising FC where he remains so far this season.

The Olympic hopefuls will face Egypt on Friday, March 22 and the Netherlands on Sunday, March 24. Both matches are set to kick off at 12 p.m. ET at the Pinatar Arena in San Pedro del Pinatar.

Gold Links

Photo credit: @LAFC

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LAFC Preseason Finale: Kit Launch and 1-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

While sporting new threads, the Los Angeles Football Club wrapped up their 2019 preseason with a 1-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday at Banc of California Stadium. Carlos Vela scored the lone goal of the evening.

Prior to kickoff, LAFC officially launched the new 2019 secondary kit. The clean white-and-grey kit made its debut on the field, and fans seemed pleased with this year’s design.

Inspired by the “materials and textures that make up the city of Los Angeles,” the new kit gives those urban vibes by featuring thin white stripes in gray hoops. But the pattern is inconsistent, with darker spots and sharp cuts in the pattern. Additionally, the new jock tag has the stylized wing featuring the slogan “Street X Street, Block X Block, One X One,” a nod to the mantra the club has used to build its fanbase.

With new kits in hand, season ticket holders were ready to watch their team finish preseason in a favorable fashion.

The match started off as expected as head coach Bob Bradley fielded a full-strength lineup. Including the trio of Mark-Anthony Kaye, Eduard Atuesta and Lee Nguyen, who collectively found ways to help each other move the ball up the pitch.

Carlos Vela scored the opener in the 13th minute, as Christian Ramirez – who was a constant source of pressure for the defense – sent a pass to Vela, who then dribbled upfield and finished calmly with his right foot to beat Zac MacMath.

There was a concerning sight shortly after the restart, as Vela picked up a knock and was forced to exit the match in the 52nd minute.

“It’s the knee; he was protecting the ball,and he sort of got hit a bit from the side,” Bradley told reporters. “He’s sore, and we just need to see how he looks tomorrow and get it looked at tomorrow.”

LAFC saw plenty of chances to double the score during the second half but failed to convert. Fortunately, the black and gold successfully kept their former assistant coach’s team from equalizing—ending in a 1-0 win.

Although scores don’t matter much during the preseason, Saturday’s performance provided a glimpse of what to expect ahead of the season opener against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, March 3.

Photo credit: @LAFC

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Making History: LAFC Clinches First-Ever Playoff Spot and Breaking Records

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club continued their historic run on Saturday when they booked their ticket for their first-ever Audi MLS Cup playoffs in a 3-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids in Commerce City – becoming the fifth MLS expansion team to reach the playoffs in their inaugural season.

LAFC has grown substantially in the past eight months. Even going back to the start of the season, the black-and-gold never found itself below the playoff line. And now sitting on 53 points, they’re poised to surpass Atlanta United’s record of 56 points from last season. Including, being in the position to overtake 1998 Chicago Fire for the best regular season by an expansion team in MLS history – by breaking their current MLS record of 57 points.

Additionally, LAFC is the first team to have three double-digit goalscorers in its inaugural season – marking them as the 12th team in MLS history to have three scorers in any season.

Adama Diomande‘s back-to-back goals in Colorado brought the Norwegian striker’s goal count for the season to 11, making him the third member of LAFC’s squad to reach that milestone and add to the club’s ongoing history – Carlos Vela (11), Dio (11), and Diego Rossi (10).

LAFC has scored 61 goals, thus far, and are tied for second-most in MLS with the LA Galaxy, so it’s not surprising the black-and-gold has been producing outstanding results for their 2018 campaign. And that’s not even acknowledging the fact Dio joined the club this May; meanwhile, Vela missed around five matches while playing in the World Cup during the summer.

The black-and-gold will have the chance to move closer to break, yet, another record with three matches to spare. They could potentially break Atlanta’s record of 70 goals by an expansion team in its first year.

Tied with Sporting Kansas City for third place in a now tighter race for the Western Conference, LAFC will host the Houston Dynamo and the Vancouver Whitecaps, concluding the regular season on the road in Kansas City searching for an opportunity to host their first playoff match.

The black-and-gold will be put up to the test when they face the Houston Dynamo this Friday, October 12. The last time these two clubs met was in the Lamar Hunt’s U.S. Open Cup semifinals – when LAFC fell in a controversial upset.

Fortunately, the black-and-gold currently has an 8-1-6 record at home and will have their dedicated fanbase to cheer them on for the full 90 minutes.

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LAFC vs. LA Galaxy: Match Preview

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Where: Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles, Calif.

When: Thursday, July 26th, 7:30 p.m. PT.

How to watch: ESPN, ESPNLA 710, KFWB 980


After falling to Minnesota United FC this past weekend, the black-and-gold returned to training on Tuesday. Lee Nguyen – who has been dangerous in the midfield this season – is available for Thursday after serving his one-match suspension due to a red card he picked up with Portland. Eduard Atuesta and André Horta were also in full training this week.

It’s no secret, there is a deep-seeded rivalry between both clubs especially, with the second installment of “El Trafico” around the corner. To help get a deeper insight, I interviewed my fellow colleague at MLSFemale and LA Galaxy reporter, Michelle Huitink.

Araceli Villanueva: The Galaxy had a bit of a rocky start but has been winning a lot of games as of late. How have they turned things around?

Michelle Huitink: This is a good question. They were playing bad soccer up until July 14. I was amazed how they came back to win against [the New England Revolution], to be honest. We couldn’t even beat San Jose or DC United, OK those ended in draws, but they’re bottom tiered teams. But, even with all of the Galaxy’s problems with defense, they’ve got a consistent pattern of play: Concede a goal or two early and then Zlatan or Alessandrini or Kamara or even Pontius score. Bingham is fantastic at saving us, but he has to work so hard because the defense is so weak – other teams often score on deflections.

We have good players and now they’re finally learning to play together as a team rather than individual talent. [Coach Schmid] been playing three in the back, which I think there should be 4, but this formation (3-4-1-2) has been working. Set pieces are also the way we score.

AV: In addition to Carlos Vela, Latif Blessing and Diego Rossi creating dangerous plays in the box – Tyler Miller and Walker Zimmermann have been vital to our defense. And with Nguyen available for selection, it looks like LAFC could have a powerful roster again for Thursday’s matchup. What adjustments do you think the Galaxy can make to their lineup to counter set pieces?

MHWe are missing Sebastian Lletget as he recovers from an injury. Ashley Cole was out due to a red card. The Dos Santos Bros had been out because of international duty and once they were back, they didn’t make an impact. So I’d say, the lineup has been changing a lot. The thing is, the Galaxy don’t lack talent [and] I think Coach Sigi Schmid has finally figured something out.

Alessandrini has been coming in as a sub and I think that helps balance out egos and power struggles. Ibrahimovic does his thing, but the fact that now he and Kamara are played together up top and Kamara isn’t playing midfield (a position that he frankly, isn’t comfortable in nor suited for). I think those are keys.

Dave Romney has been great for defense. Dude has gotten two teeth knocked out now. I kind of see Boateng as a “closing pitcher” kind of, where he tightens up defense, makes plays, and goes for goal whenever he’s subbed in, usually pretty late in the second half.

AV: Although these two clubs have played each other once, thus far. It seems they are quite familiar with each other. Is there any player LAFC fans should learn about? Or give us a fun fact about the Galaxy we might not know!

MH: Romain Alessandrini aka “Alsessandreamy” always gives a Man of the Match performance. He’s a 7, but he always plays hard for the Galaxy. He’s usually getting yellow cards or is in the mix whenever someone gets one. He was so happy France won the Cup, of course, he was watching in-flight. He carried a big French flag with him and he and Ciani posed with it. Now, he’s bringing that winning attitude to the Galaxy. What can I say concisely? He’s hot on the pitch and off. It would just be a travesty if he got traded.

AV: Ibra. The player that likes to refer to himself in third person. LAFC was dominating the last match until he appeared late in the match. Do you think he will deliver the same, if not, similar results Thursday?

MH: I have no doubts that Zlatan will perform and score at least one; He has 9 goals in his last 6 starts. 4 assists. And total 12 goals with the Galaxy since he’s joined.

I just think the strategy can’t be to just get the ball to Zlatan because that’s when we get predictable. Now, the Galaxy on March 31st had started the comeback as Lletget had scored a consolation goal and then Pontius scored. Ibra was just the one to bring it all on for the win, which is what we hired him for, right?

LAFC are at home. They’ve got something to prove against the Galaxy more so. For all the trash talk people joke and say about LAFC, they’ve got Blessing, Vela, Rossi and Diomande and other great players that I wouldn’t underestimate. Tyler Miller is one heck of a goalkeeper. It’s definitely going to be game on. This is MLS, it’s anyone’s game.

Featured image: Erick Gonzales

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Weekly Update: Hat Trick Dio, André Horta’s Arrival, World Cup News

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Dio’s Hat-Trick

LAFC wins in a 4-1 victory over Philadelphia Union this past weekend.

Adama Diomande scored the first hat-trick in the club’s history. Then Latif Blessing put the cherry on top with a goal during stoppage time giving the black and gold a 4-1 victory.

According to Elias Sports, Dio now has seven goals in his first five MLS games, the most of any player after 5 games in the league’s 23-year history.

*Read more about the match here.

André Horta has arrived

André Horta arrived in Los Angeles on June 22 and is already donning his black and gold kit. Although he did not participate in the black and gold’s 2-0 victory over Columbus Crew the next day, Horta was cheering with the fans in the supporters’ section.

The Portuguese striker didn’t appear in Saturday’s victory.

Open Cup Blessings

LAFC advances to the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals in a 3-2 victory over Sacramento Republic FC after a dramatic second half.

Sacramento proved to be a tough team having already knocked out an MLS team prior to the Round of 16 matchup and the black and gold was up to task. Elliott Hord buried a rebound giving Sacramento the lead in the first half. Benny Feilhaber was close to leveling the match when he stepped up to take the penalty but his attempt was saved by Josh Cohen going into the half trailing by one.

Feilhaber quickly made up his poor attempt when he found the equalizer in the 58th minute. However, the celebration was cut short as Villyan Bijev put Sacramento ahead just two minutes later. Diego Rossi – who had the best performance of the night – tied up the game again in the 67th minute.

Rossi nearly scored again in the 85th minute, but his shot went off the post, and it bounced back along the goal line. The game-winner came in the 89th minute, as Rossi sent a low cross to Latif Blessing who tapped it in giving LAFC their 3-2 victory.

LAFC will host the Portland Timbers for the USOC quarterfinals on Wednesday, July 18th. Kickoff is set for 7:30 PST.

Two LAFC players selected for MLS All-Star Roster

Carlos Vela and Laurent Ciman are having one heck of a year!

Vela and Ciman have been named to the 2018 MLS All-Star roster. They will join a 26-player squad as Major League Soccer’s brightest stars square off with Italian powerhouse Juventus in the 2018 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target.

The summer showcase at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta will kick off Wednesday, Aug. 1, at 4:30 p.m. PT and will be broadcasted on ESPN and UniMas.

World Cup Update

Carlos Vela remained the sole LAFC player to participate in this summer’s 2018 World Cup action as Mexico advanced to the Round of 16, unfortunately, El Tri was eliminated after suffering a 2-0 loss to Brazil Monday morning.

Vela played the full 90 minutes and nearly scored a goal in the 60th minute. His left-footed curl could have tied up the game giving Mexico hope, but it was pushed over by Brazil goalkeeper Alisson. Despite all efforts, El Tri fell to Brazil.

Egypt and Costa Rica were eliminated during the group stage. It is unclear when Omar Gaber, Marco Ureña and Vela will return to LA.

Watch for my LAFC at Houston recap coming soon.

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