Despite constant rumors of a parting of ways, Carlos Vela still had something to say on his fifth opening day match with LAFC. In front of a raucous Banc of California, the face of the franchise scored a hat trick as LAFC kicked off its 2022 campaign with a win.
Back in December, LAFC exercised a contract option that keeps Vela with the team through the summer of 2022. Both player and team have yet to agree on an extension of his contract beyond that. It looms large over the team’s fortunes that have gone through drastic changes after missing the 2021 MLS playoffs.
After winning the league MVP in 2019, the Mexican international only played in 27 regular season matches in 2020 and 2021. Despite the impasse regarding his future with the Black and Gold, 2022 offers a fresh start for him to get back to his MVP level.
Opening up against the Colorado Rapids, he needed only 50 minutes to remind everybody what he can do on the grass. He scored one goal better than the other starting off the scoring by converting a penalty 29 minutes into the game after a handball in the box.
At the 35-minute mark, he showed off his strength by collecting an overhead pass from Jose Cifuentes and scoring a goal with a Rapids defender draped on his shoulder, beating goalkeeper William Yarbrough with a low shot.
After halftime, he picked up where he left off at the 50th minute using his famous left foot to beat Yarbrough with an arcing shot to collect his third career hat trick in an LAFC shirt.
The LAFC supporters made their feelings known by chanting the all too familiar “MVP, MVP, MVP”. A reminder to the LAFC front office where their loyalties lie when it comes to their captain.
His efforts put the game away early and provided the winning margin in LAFC’s 3-0 win. When he came off at the 85th minute LAFC supporters gave him another ovation acknowledging his efforts as they have since his first game with the team.
He returned the favor after the final whistle applauding the supporters in the 3252 as more MVP chants rained down on him.
Both Vela and his supporters may be wondering how many more times they’ll get to applaud him as summer approaches and a decision that could alter the franchise has to be made.