The defensive midfielder had just two MLS goals before his brace at BC Place, showing only glimpses of attacking prowess in his previous 3 1/2 seasons.
Coincidence? Head coach Carl Robinson didn't think so. That was part of the reason he brought Tchani to Vancouver, to give Laba the midfield partner he needed to help take his game to another level.
"Bringing Tony in, he's a box-to-box player," Robinson said. "Mati saw him sitting, holding. I told him Tony, when he sees those areas being vacated, to make sure he fills them and let Mati have a little license as well. Mati scored two great goals today.
"The first goal is an outstanding goal. [Cristian] Techera's in the right, correct defensive position in the attacking half, Fredy [Montero] shows his vision, and Mati hits a great strike. It's nice for him. He's celebrating with his wife and his little boy. Hopefully there's more to come."
Laba hopes so too, after grabbing an MLS career-first headed goal to seal the game.
He's looking forward to playing alongside Tchani and already sees the potential to have the kind of midfield partnership he previously had with Gershon Koffie during his first two seasons in Vancouver.
"Maybe I can help a bit more as an attacking midfielder in this part of the field," Laba said. "Tony is a good player. Maybe he can help a bit more in midfield ... I remember Koffie when he played. It's the same style. He's a very good player. I like him."
Laba's two-goal haul helped the Whitecaps secure their first MLS win of the season. Having started the match in last place in the Western Conference following Minnesota United FC's win over Real Salt Lake, another defeat would have compounded the mounting pressure on the team and Robinson to turn things around.
But if there was pressure, Laba says the team wasn't feeling it, at least not outwardly, and the Argentine midfielder is now hoping that the Whitecaps will use this victory as a springboard to get a run going in a tough period of games that will see Vancouver playing five of their next six MLS matches on the road.
"No pressure, but inside pressure," Laba said. "We've had very good games but couldn't get the result. Now that three points is very important for us to make us more confident and for the rest of the league."