The 32-year-old Mexican forward started his 2022 campaign in style at Banc of California Stadium, striking for all three goals inside the first 50 minutes (in 21 minutes total) as the Black & Gold started the Steve Cherundolo era.
Hat trick details
Vela started the fireworks just before the half-hour mark, cashing home a penalty kick that was awarded after Colorado defender Lalas Abubakar was whistled for a handball in his own box.
The 2019 Landon Donovan MLS MVP saved his best for last, finishing off the hat trick in the 50th minute with a gorgeous strike to the far post as he made a charging run from the right side. Watch all three goals below.
It was Vela's third career MLS hat trick and first since his MVP-winning campaign of 2019. His last one also came against the Rapids on Oct. 6, 2019, with the other coming on March 30 of that year against the San Jose Earthquakes.
The performance was a positive sign for LAFC that Vela is primed to resume his dominant form, coming off an injury-shortened 2021 that saw him limited to 15 starts and 1,267 minutes. He's also out of contract come the summer, leading to ESPN's Taylor Twellman reporting that contract discussions are underway for an MLS stay as opposed to a European return.
The MLS Player of the Week is selected each week of the regular season through both media and fan voting in a process conducted by MLS Communications. A panel of journalists from the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) comprises 75 percent of the vote, while a Twitter fan vote represents the remaining 25 percent of the vote. NASR consists of members of print, television, radio and online media.