LOS ANGELES, Calif – While LAFC arrived with an entire round of Champion’s League under their belt, season three in MLS began today. The stars were out in Los Angeles, the LAFC season opener welcomed expansion side, Inter Miami, to Major League Soccer. For Miami, today was a chance to put the league on notice, going up against one of the best. While LAFC, were just hoping to build on their Champions League success, while avoiding any emotional, and physical, drop-offs.
LAFC Season Opener: Carlos Vela Goal Downs Inter Miami at The Banc
The match was a bit like heavyweights meeting in the ring for the first time. Neither team wanting to commit too much, too soon, with both sides creating chances, but none providing a real goal-scoring threat. The scoring was opened by none other than the birthday boy himself, Carlos Vela.
After a few slick skill moves, Vela found the space he needed to pull off an early contender for GOTY. A chip shot from outside the box found the dip it needed to get up, over, and past Luis Robles, in the 44th minute.
The second-half saw a much sharper Inter Miami take the pitch. It wasn’t long before they were peppering the LAFC goal with chances, searching for the first goal in their club’s history. However, it was not to be as the 2019 Supporter’s Shield winners held on for the tough 1-0 victory.
While they may not have won the match, or broken the clean sheet, Inter Miami did put everyone on notice, this will not be your typical expansion side, content on just “doing their best.”
VELA VELA VELAAAAAA 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/Ovoqs5PaP9
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 1, 2020
Nobody in sports enjoys a morale victory, however, for Miami, that is exactly what today will be. While many had written them off as the heavy underdog in Los Angeles, Miami came out looking to prove they not only belong, but can compete with the best of them.
It is far too early to make a concrete judgement on how Inter Miami will do this year, but using today’s performance as building blocks, will be a great start. Being able to travel over 3,000 miles, to face the leagues best, and only coming away with a one goal loss, is encouraging.
Especially when you consider the goal that beat them, was the stuff of Hogwarts-level magic. It may be just one match, but Inter could be the next expansion side to see immediate success in the MLS.
Formidable Back Four
After LAFC dropped their first match of the season, a 2-0 loss to Mexican side, León, many were in a bit of panic over the defense. The LAFC defense has seen some changes over the last couple of months, and while the first match was rough, the defense has held two clean-sheets since.
Dejan Jakovic was the player tapped to replace departing center back, Walker Zimmerman. After a pretty tough first match, Dejan has not only settled into his new responsibilities, but he has quickly becoming a wall at the back. Making his presence felt today, Dejan had a handful of critical stops to keep Inter Miami from netting their first goal in club history. This defense will only improve the more time it spends together, so the panic, it seems, was a bit pre-mature.
As head coach Bob Bradley stated after the match “All you should be allowed to ask me about, all you should be allowed to write about, is the goal.” So, here is the Bob Bradley sanctioned, section of the recap, where we talk about the magician that is, Carlos Vela.
While it may have been his birthday, it was Vela providing supporters with the gift. After flashing the skill moves that we have come to expect, he lined ups shot that almost everyone assumed would be a left-footed laser.
However, Vela had different plans, putting together the cheekiest of chips from outside the box, lofting the ball up and over Luis Robles. The goal itself was a moment of absolute brilliance, even for the likes of Vela. If he wasn’t your favorite to repeat as MVP, going into the match, he definitely should be now.
After a rocky first match, LAFC have begun to settle into the form we are all accustomed to. Most impressive was winning a game like this, grinding out while not performing your best, after just 60 hours of rest. This team knows that all that matters now, is silverware, and they look poised to get some this year.