The Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) kicked off their home opener of 2019 in front of 18,000 at the Banc of California stadium with a friendly against Vissel Kobe of the J. League in Japan.
LAFC was showing off its international credentials becoming the first team to play a Japanese side in the U.S. in 20 years.
Fans in attendance were in for a treat as the Vissel Kobe side had players familiar to them and the soccer world.
Former international greats and FIFA World Cup winners Andres Iniesta and David Villa of Spain and FIFA World Cup winner Lukas Podolski of Spain.
Los Angeles sent out a full complement of players just a week after training camp began, as they begin their ramp up to the MLS opener in March.
Not lost on this writer was the fact that the loudest cheers during introductions was for LAFC captain Carlos Vela.
The L.A. supporters group 3252 was no doubt delighted to see Vela on the pitch after rumors speculated La Liga giants FC Barcelona were looking to add Vela on a transfer.
With Vela in town, there was nothing left but the game for LAFC and Vissel Kobe’s three internationals.
What a show Vela put on for his guests. After an early feeling out period for both teams Vela put in work.
At the 33rd minute he curled in a beautiful shot into the top corner, then at the 44th minute Vela took a pass from Lee Nguyen drove up the wing and beat Vissel goalkeeper Daiya Maekawa with a low shot.
After the half both coaches emptied their benches as the match continued.
The biggest cheers of the second half were for Iniesta, David Villa, And Podolski when they were substituted out in the 65th minute.
Defender Dejan Jakovic added a third goal in the 75th minute, meanwhile Vissel finally got on the score sheet with a free kick goal in the 80th minute.
LAFC didn’t rest as substitute Kevin Mendoza scored in the 86th minute to give Los Angeles the 4-1 win.
LAFC Coach Bob Bradley summed up the game afterwards:
“In stretches little bit of good football…Two very good goals by Carlos (Vela) in the first half.”
When asked about the greatness of Iniesta, Bradley had this to say:
“His use of touches, his ability to play the right pass, everything that he does is in sync with the game…he’s one of the best midfielders that’s ever played the game..its one thing to see him on T.V. but when you see him up close it’s even better.”
LAFC will now continue preparing for the beginning of the MLS season, as Bradley rounds out the roster.