MLS is Back and so too is Carlos Vela. The former Golden Boot presented by Audi winner got his 2022 season off to a terrific start, scoring a hat trick to lead LAFC to a 3-0 win over the Colorado Rapids Saturday at Banc of California Stadium.

Vela scored his first goal of the new campaign from the penalty spot, sending William Yarbrough the wrong way just before the half-hour mark after Lalas Abubakar handled the ball in the box.

The Mexican forward added his second goal six minutes later after José Cifuentes won the ball in midfield and quickly played behind the Rapids' defense. Vela shook off a challenge from behind by Abubakar to again beat Yarbrough.

Vela’s third was a trademark finish, running down the right channel before cutting back to his left with a tidy curler inside the far post. From there, the hosts went into cruise control in their season-opening win.

Goals

  • 29’ — LAFC — Carlos Vela (PK) | WATCH
  • 35’ — LAFC — Carlos Vela | WATCH
  • 50’ — LAFC — Carlos Vela | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: A big season for LAFC, and the beginning of the Steve Cherundolo era, got off to a smashing start thanks to the hat trick hero Carlos Vela. And what a start for Vela, who has been limited to just nine goals the last two years after an MLS-record 34 in 2019. Meanwhile, 2022 couldn’t have started worse for the Rapids, who followed up a Concacaf Champions League midweek ouster on penalties with a listless performance in a 3-0 regular season-opening defeat.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: This third goal was vintage Vela.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: Was this ever in doubt?

Next Up

  • LAFC: Sunday, March 6 vs. Portland Timbers | 10 pm ET (FS1, FOX Deportes) | MLS regular season
  • COL: Saturday, March 5 vs. Atlanta United | 6 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+) | MLS regular season