The Carlos Vela show is back for LAFC: "It’s a luxury to have him in the team"

There were no grand statements, no proclamations about the Golden Boot presented by Audi.

But it’s clear how much Carlos Vela is valued by his new teammates and new coach after being a hat-trick hero in LAFC’s season-opening 3-0 win over the Colorado Rapids Saturday at Banc of California Stadium.


A Luxury

“He makes the difference for us. It’s a luxury to have him in the team,” said midfielder Ilie Sanchez, who made his LAFC debut after five seasons at Sporting Kansas City. “When you work defensively and you get a hold of the ball, you have the opportunity to create chances, and to have someone like Carlos Vela finishing those chances is what makes this team different. We really have to take advantage of the quality he provides. We are happy to have him with us and I’m enjoying him as a teammate. It really helps to have him in the locker room as a leader.”

Goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau is certainly happy to be on the other side of Vela these days, watching his brilliance instead of trying to stop the talisman from the other net.

“Super happy for Carlos Vela,” said Crepeau, who earned a clean sheet in his LAFC debut after being Vancouver Whitecaps FC's starter for three seasons. “After the season he had last year, we will know that injuries in professional sports, it can hit you a little bit. So the way he responds, that’s the type of person he is. It’s been a little bit of short time that I'm with him, but every time I got to learn how he is and such, he’s a great human being and he deserves this.”

It wasn’t just the LAFC newcomers who were impressed. So, too, was Jose Cifuentes, who set up Vela on his last two goals.

“You saw what he does, he takes three or four players with him and he scores the goal, as he did in tight space,” the midfielder said. “We’ll take advantage that Carlos is on our team and it's always great to have him on our side.”

Staying cautious

New LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo was cautious when asked what the hat trick will mean for Vela, who was limited to nine goals in 27 appearances the last two years because of injuries, and for LAFC, which missed the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs a year ago.

“We will have to wait and see what it does. But I think we all know what he can do,” Cherundolo said. “And he showed it again today and he worked very hard in preseason to get to where he is today. That is a message that I’ve been very clear with him and our communication has been great. He knows to be able to play like that, he needs to put in the work and he did. And I'm very happy for him and the group that we're all rewarded for it.”