LAFC began their 2022 MLS regular season under the soft blue skies of a perfect Los Angeles afternoon where they faced the team that knocked them out of running for the postseason playoffs, the top seed of the Western Conference, the Colorado Rapids. And, they won. A hat trick by LAFC captain, Carlos Vela, pushed the home team to defeat the Rapids 3-0. As he left the match in the 86th minute, fans applauded for the leader scored his third hat trick of his MLS career with his 60th goal as an MLS player. Hearing him say “I want to be happy,” echoes in our minds as both fans and rivals watch him play today. It’s a phrase Vela uses often (actually, year after year) in various forms. After all, it’s all our goals. Happiness.
Vela began his hat trick with a first-half brace, first from the penalty-kick spot in the 29th minute after an error from Lalas Abubakar. Next Vela broke away in the 35th minute assisted by a perfectly-placed ball from José Cifuentes. Lastly, just five minutes after the second half began, he curled a ball to the far post for a 3-0 lead. Vela’s had two hat tricks in his MLS career prior to today – both were in his MLS MVP year of 2019 – one was against Colorado, on October 6th, the other on March 30th against San Jose.
And, with the end of Carlos Vela’s contract with LAFC approaching on can only hope he continues to find the happiness he is seeking on and off the pitch.
LAFC took all three points today. Their 2021 season ended with a whimper. Their 2022 season began with a roar.
As Coach Steve Cherundolo stated in the post-game wrap-up, “Today’s result was the culmination of a lot of hard work from a lot of people. This is just the beginning of our journey.”