Carlos Vela began the 2022 MLS regular season in the form LAFC fans have come to expect, scoring a hat trick in Saturday's 3-0 win over the Colorado Rapids at Banc of California Stadium – the same day supporters offered a moving tribute to legendary Mexican singer Vicente Fernandez.

The 2019 Landon Donovan MLS MVP grabbed a first-half brace from the penalty-kick spot and via a breakaway. Then he provided a trademark second-half tally, curling to the far post for a 3-0 lead. All goals were scored across a 21-minute span, and before the 50th minute.

It was Vela's first hat trick for the Black & Gold since an Oct. 6, 2019 match, also against the Rapids. The Designated Player star now has three career hat tricks for LAFC.

LAFC's captain was plagued by injuries the last two years, only appearing in a combined 27 matches.

But the 32-year-old Mexican roared to his peak level in Week 1, giving new head coach Steve Cherundolo a leading performance as they start the journey toward a possible Audi MLS Cup Playoffs return.

Vela's out of contract come the summer, though for the time being is helping lead a new era at LAFC that counts goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau and midfielder Kellyn Acosta as key intra-league acquisitions.