A first-half goal by Carlos Vela, his fourth of the preseason, lifted host LAFC to victory over Vancouver on Saturday in their final preseason tuneup for next weekend’s MLS regular-season opener. Here are three things that stood out:
Vela is in midseason form … or he’s out of next weekend’s regular-season opener: The Mexican international played 52 minutes before hobbling off because of a knee injury. Coach Bob Bradley said he’ll know more about the extent of Vela’s injury after an examination Sunday. “He’s sore,” Bradley said. “We’ll need to see how he feels tomorrow.” With Vela on the field the attack was fluid, with LAFC getting off seven shots, three on goal. But they took only one shot after he left.
The lineup is set: Bradley said he would open with his strongest 11 on Saturday and if that holds, then Christian Ramirez is the team’s starter up front between Vela and Diego Rossi, and newcomer Eddie Segura will start beside Walker Zimmerman in central defense. Segura, who joined the team on loan from Colombia’s Atletico Huila, has been solid all preseason and looks to be a steady upgrade over the often-unpredictable Laurent Ciman, who started in that position last season. LAFC pressed most of the night and the midfield was also heavily involved in the defense, a big reason why Vancouver didn’t put a shot on goal.
It’s time to start playing games that count: “I think we’re ready to start the season,” Bradley said. “The continuation of ideas that we tried to put in place last year, I definitely see a group of guys who are connected in terms of leadership. And guys that now know that last year we were a pretty good team. But now they seem to be committed to trying to make sure that we are even better.”