On his 31st birthday, Carlos Vela kicked off Year 3 for LAFC with the lone goal in the 1-0 win over newcomer Inter Miami CF.
The reigning MLS MVP and Golden Boot winner played the ball off his chest, split a pair of defenders and then made another move to set up his 44th-minute strike. He chipped the ball with his signature left foot from the edge of the box, right over goalkeeper Luis Robles into the net.
LAFC was coming off a rally past Leon in CONCACAF Champions League just a few days ago, so questions about the lineup loomed over coach Bob Bradley. He ended up only making two changes, and the players rewarded him.
Robles was able to keep the game close throughout, while opposing keeper Kenneth Vermeer was strong in net for LAFC, coming up with a huge double-save in the first half moments before Vela’s goal. He also denied Inter’s star signing Rodolfo Pizarro on a couple different occasions.
The Mexican Designated Player looked comfortable in the debut, orchestrating the offense despite not finding a finishing touch.
For it being the first official 90 minutes in franchise history, Miami showed some positive signs. Led by two-time MLS Cup champion Roman Torres, the visitors were solid and structured defensively against one of the most potent attacks in MLS.
LAFC looked like its usual self. The back line, trying to fill Walker Zimmerman’s void, was impressive, and the midfield was commanding. Diego Rossi and Brian Rodriguez were convincing in their movement but lacked a goal to show for it.
Luckily, LAFC has a prolific scorer to take care of that. Vela has now scored in 10 straight games, the second-longest streak in MLS history.
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