MLS is finally back. LAFC kicked off the 2022 campaign during a gorgeous, sunny, Saturday afternoon against the Colorado Rapids. With a new head coach, new faces on the roster, and a full offseason of speculation, it was finally time to do the talking on the pitch. LAFC apparently couldn't wait to do that, securing the three points with a 3-0 win over the Rapids.
One surprise occurred before a ball was even kicked, when the team released the Starting XI, featuring Chicho Arango on the bench, with 20-year-old Kwadwo Opoku getting the start.
The majority of the first half went about as expected. Neither side was doing anything too risky, as both teams remained in the feeling out process for the better part of the half. As the team started to get a bit more comfortable, the chances started coming for the black and gold. In the 29th minute, one of those chances resulted in a handball against Colorado, sending Carlos Vela to the spot for a chance to take the lead. As expected, he stepped up, and calmly sent Colorado GK William Yarbrough the other way to give LAFC the lead.
The goal felt so nice, Vela wanted that feeling twice. He caught those feels in the 35th minute. Jose Cifuentes put on a perfectly weighted long-ball that find Vela — already behind the defense — and El Capitan wasted no time in doubling the lead, and netting his first-half brace.
The brace from Vela would be the only goals of the half, with LAFC taking the 2-0 lead into the halftime break. While the scoreline favored the home side, there was still clearly some kinks to work out within the squad. While the pass to Vela was perfect, the passing as a whole clearly needed more time to come together as players continue to build chemistry. A few near misses that very well could've ended up with even more goals, at the very least, more clear chances at finding the back of the net.
It wouldn't take long at all for Vela to get his hat-trick, doing so with an absolute stunner in the 50th minute of the match. In true Vela fashion he took on the defense himself, created just enough room, and got off a banger with the left foot from just inside the box, at an angle. Letting us, and the league know, he's still very much one of, if not the most dangerous forward in the MLS.
Three goals, three points, and a clean sheet was how the match ended for LAFC. It couldn't be a better start to the 2022 season for the black and gold. Not only did they get some revenge on a team that beat them 5-2 to close out last year — keeping them out of the playoffs — but they also made a statement to the rest of the league. Despite all the newness around the club, this is still the same old LAFC. Extremely dominant when clicking on all cylinders. Funnily enough, they haven’t even reached that point just yet.
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