The last time Carlos Vela appeared in an MLS match, it was against the LA Galaxy on August 22. He limped out of an eventual 2-0 loss to LAFC's fierce rivals and has missed the club's last 11 games with an MCL injury.
As LAFC are preparing to face the Galaxy once against Sunday (3:30 pm ET | ABC, TSN2), the reigning Landon Donovan MLS MVP could be poised to make his return.
“I think that Tristan (Blackmon) and Carlos are possible for some minutes in this game," LAFC coach Bob Bradley told reporters on a virtual press conference Friday. "Those guys have been doing more and more in training, it’s good to see them being more confident. I’m hoping in the next stretch to get those guys back on the field.”
Vela has played just three games in 2020, and only once since the league was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He did score in each of his first two starts of the season, back in March.
That's not the only reinforcement Bradley's shorthanded side could get on Sunday, as the club's quartet of players on international duty — Diego Rossi, Brian Rodriguez, Diego Palacios and Jose Cifuentes — are all available to return.
“They’re healthy, but what you have to do is look at the last three weeks and see how much or how little they’ve done," Bradley said. "We’ll figure out our best way to go about things for this match will be.”
It's good timing for LAFC heading into the latest chapter of this fierce rivalry, particularly given the Galaxy won the last two matches between the sides. The Galaxy, though, have been struggling. They only just snapped a six-game losing streak with a win last weekend against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Guillermo Barros Schelotto's side sit bottom of the Western Conference still, but are just three points below the playoff line with a couple of games in hand on teams above them in the table.
"I think we play the game, these last two games, we could beat them because we play very focused and everyone on the field was working," Barros Schelotto said. "We made the plan we saw before. Every player was wonderful during these two games and we know they have a really good team, a really good coach, but we need to go and fight, try to win, because it’s important for our season to win the game."
Regardless of who is on the field for either side, it's always a special occasion when these two teams play in their short, yet lively history.
"They beat us twice since Orlando and we want to get one back," LAFC forward Danny Musovski said. "We want to set things right.”