Vela shines in LAFC’s 4-1 thumping of Portland

LAFC have claimed all six points to begin their second campaign in Major League Soccer after beating Portland Timbers 4-1. Carlos Vela shined the brightest throughout the evening, getting two assists and scoring LAFC’s fourth goal of the match.

“Every day I try to be better, to be a better player, a better teammate,” Vela said post-match.

“And in the end, I’m working on being the MVP of the league. If I want to do that, I have to show every game how good I am.”

A team needs consistency if they are to build upon a successful inaugural season. Bob Bradley gave his side more of that by naming an unchanged starting lineup from their 2-1 win over Sporting KC.

Goals galore in first half

After sustaining a season-ending injury when he broke his ankle in August, Mark-Anthony Kaye announced his return on Sunday afternoon. In the 14th minute, the Canadian midfielder opened the scoring at one off of a corner kick. He started on the edge of the near post before coming off the line to redirect the delivery into the net.

(Image via AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

LAFC’s advantage was short lived. Right before the half hour mark, 22-year-old striker Jeremy Ebobisse leveled the match at one. Off of a free kick delivery from Diego Valeri, the USMNT forward, despite taking a boot to the face from Walker Zimmerman, headed home the equalizer.

Veteran defender Steven Beitashour lasted only 32 minutes after he sustained an earlier head injury. While he was not officially placed in concussion protocol, Bradley still took precaution by replacing him with Latif Blessing. While he normally plays as a right winger, Bradley deployed Blessing as a right back.

“(Blessing) has shown that his natural football instinct, and his quickness, and his stamina, and his way of just giving everything,” the LAFC manager said.

“He can be put anywhere in the field, so it’s fun to watch.”

The deadlock lasted a mere 15 minutes when Santa Ana native Christian Ramirez scored on the stroke of halftime. Vela sprayed the ball out wide to Jordan Harvey, who played a pass back towards the middle of the area. Both Julio Cascante, of the Timbers, and Ramirez went for the ball and the LAFC striker got the last touch.

Vela steals the show

Minutes after coming off the bench, Adama Diomande scored his second goal of the season. Vela fired a pass to a wide open Diomande after the ball pinged around the box. The Norwegian striker made no mistake with his finish, coolly slotting his shot past Jeff Attinella.

After all of his hard work throughout the match, the Mexican international dutifully got his reward. Diomande sent Vela in behind the Portland defense and continued his run into the box. Attinella came off his line to try and cut down the angle, but the LAFC captain had enough composure to get on the score sheet.

In the aftermath of the goal, Kaye was taken off due to injury, but only as a precautionary measure as well.

“Everyone knows I have been out the last five and a half months,” Kaye said afterwards. “So I don’t think it’s a shock to anyone that I’ve cramped early this season.”  

Next up

LAFC will go on the road for the first time next Sunday when they take on New York City FC at Yankee Stadium. Kick off for this match is set for 12:00 PM PST.

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