On Sunday night, Carlos Vela delivered another utterly dominant performance.
Vela had a goal, two assists (and nearly a third before it was taken away upon replay review), five successful dribbles and three fouls won in LAFC's 4-1 victory over the Portland Timbers. He was a nightmare for the Timbers in the final third.
Thankfully for Portland, they aren't the first team to fall victim to the spell cast by Vela's left foot and won't be the last. It was a continuation from his fantastic form last year, in which he had 14 goals and 13 assists in 28 appearances.
"I really think Carlos Vela has the chance to be the MVP," analyst Calen Carr said on Matchday Central after the game. "As far as talent goes, he’s the best player in Major League Soccer."
Is Calen right? Well, MLSsoccer.com reached out to some experts asking that very question:
Alexi Lalas, FOX Sports: "Early days, but right now Carlos Vela is the best player in MLS.
He’s a star, because he's constantly a difference-maker. If you take him off of LAFC they become average and beatable. His value is in his consistent and efficient production and impact. Everyone knows he is going to set up camp on the right flank and come inside to his magical left foot…but most teams still can't stop him, they can only hope to slow him down."
Bobby Warshaw, MLSsoccer.com: "There are two ways to look at this answer:
- Who has the most talent when he's at his best?
- Who performs at the highest level on a consistent basis?
I'll start by saying Carlos Vela might be the best answer for both questions, and I don't have a problem with anyone saying he is. With that said, I'd take Darwin Quintero for the first option and Nico Lodeiro for the second. Quintero's just a touch more unstoppable when he's feeling it, largely I think, because he uses his center of gravity to be a more proficient dribbler and doesn't need to rely on his teammates as much.
To put numbers to it, Quintero has contributed a goal or assist every 83 minutes in MLS, while Vela has a rate of every 85 minutes. And Lodeiro is just consistently fantastic; he might not put in the breath-taking performances of Quintero or Vela, but he finds a way to impact every game."
Charlie Davies, former US international: "I agree with Calen that Carlos Vela is the best player in the league, based on talent. However, the best player doesn’t always win MVP.
Darwin Quintero is the MVP of MLS so far this season. His play has transformed Minnesota into a contender. He’s playing with the ultimate confidence and has the ability to make everyone else around him better. He creates space for others with his pace and dribbling, scores from anywhere and works hard on both sides of the ball for the team. Oh yeah; He's doing it all with a certain swagger, too."