The Los Angeles Football (LAFC) came into rivalry week with a four-game winning streak looking to sweep their season series against the San Jose Earthquakes.
When these teams met in late March, LAFC rolled over the Earthquakes in their home stadium winning 5-0 giving them their fifth straight loss to start the MLS season.
Since April the Earthquakes managed to turn things around and were 11-5-5 coming into the game against LAFC.
It didn’t matter that the Earthquakes had improved to LAFC captain Carlos Vela. He put on a dazzling show of skill and magic as he dashed, fainted, and nutmegged defenders to death.
Vela scored two goals one on a penalty and the other on what could only be described as the best run in Los Angeles since Carl Lewis in the 1984 Olympics.
After the match coach Bob Bradley had this to say about Vela:
“We’ve worked for two years at trying to get Carlos [Vela] to enjoy playing in the middle more, trying to get him to understand how to come away, how to be an extra man in different spots on the field, and in other moments, how to join in and get forward. I think he’s continued to get better and better at it and actually enjoy it more and more.”
The match was more than Carlos Vela as LAFC asserted itself and were rewarded early when Diego Rossi scored in the sixth minute. Rossi scored his 14th goals of the season when he pounced on a Josh Perez rebound and gave LAFC a 1-0 advantage.
Vela’s first goal came in the 17th minute when a handball in the Earthquakes box went uncalled. As soon play was called dead the Video Assistant Referee called for a review and did award a penalty. After Vela calmly slotted the penalty it was 2-0 LAFC.
In the 41st Vela turned the game on his head playing give and go with Rossi, and then rounding three Earthquakes players including the goalkeeper before slotting the shot into the net.
Vela not only made the play of the game but he put a spotlight on himself for all the world to see.
It wasn’t just the Vela show as LAFC maintained their pressure while refusing to buckle when the Earthquakes fought back in the second half.
Josh Perez who started over Adama Diomande had five shots saved by Earthquakes goalkeeper Daniel Vega before finally beating him in the 81st minute to provide the 4-0 margin of victory.
Postgame Bradley addressed the teams task ahead when they face rival LA Galaxy on Sunday:
“And yeah, it’s the derby. It means more, it’s the emotion in the game, the intensity of the game. So far, with all the things we’ve done, we haven’t beat them, so certainly it’s something we’re all thinking about…”
That is on Sunday but for this game, Bradley could be satisfied that Vela his captain was a superstar and the whole world saw it too.