Carlos Vela's devastating chip over goalkeeper Luis Robles proved the difference, lifting LAFC to a 1-0 victory over Inter Miami CF in both teams' season opener and expansion Miami's first-ever MLS match on Sunday at Banc of California Stadium.
Celebrating his 31st birthday, Vela's stunner just before halftime came after arguably Miami's best spell of their maiden outing. Matias Pelligrini and Nicolas Figal both forced LAFC 'keeper Kenneth Vermeer into difficult stops in the 10 minutes prior to going behind.
It wasn't a vintage performance from the defending Supporters' Shield champions, who were three days removed from their stirring 3-0 win over Liga MX's Club Leon to secure a passage to the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals.
Even so, coach Bob Bradley's men held more than three-fifths of the possession and were Robles' eight saves — and a pair of correct offsides decisions — away from a more comfortable win.
- 44' - LAFC - Carlos Vela | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: Miami should certainly take confidence in going toe-to-toe with the team that set a league record for points earned in 2019, even if it was a leg-weary group they faced less than 72 hours removed from the intensity of CCL. That said, workmanlike results like these are exactly what made LAFC great last season, and what gives them a real chance to become the first back-to-back Shield winners since the LA Galaxy in 2010 and 2011.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: We've almost come to expect moments like this from Vela after the style he displayed in the single most productive offensive season in history in 2019. Even so, this was among his best moments on an MLS pitch.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Carlos Vela. In truth, it was far from his most consistent 90 minutes, and perhaps not surprisingly after the quick turnaround, the younger Diego Rossi was a more consistent threat. But Vela's moment of class single-handedly turned one point into three.