LOS ANGELES – LAFC forward Carlos Vela believes his new club is “in the right direction” but recognizes that there is still a lot of work to be done ahead of the team’s inaugural season.
Vela scored twice in LAFC’s 4-4 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday as the expansion team came back from a two-goal halftime deficit.
The Mexico international opened the scoring in the third minute with a sparkling free kick, then added a penalty in the second half. Vela played mainly as a No.10 behind a forward three from Latif Blessing, Marco Ureña and Diego Rossi, and showed good understanding with his teammates.
The result was tempered, however, by the fact that LAFC lined up its top-notch lineup, while Vancouver’s starting XI was mostly made up of reservists. For this reason, the Mexico international knows his side need to improve on the defensive end of the ball.
“It was a crazy game,” he told ESPN FC in an exclusive interview. “We have to work, we have to be stronger because we conceded a lot of goals and it’s difficult to win a game like this.
“Of course it’s difficult because we are starting from scratch. We have to build how we can play, how we want to play, and we are on the right track. But of course we have a lot of things to improve, and J ‘hope we can be ready for the start of the season. “
The team has been together for just over a month and has a manager in Bob Bradley who is well versed in the challenges facing expansion teams. It was Bradley who led the Chicago Fire to a brace in the MLS Cup and US Open Cup in its inaugural season in 1998.
“[Bradley] knows the league, and how to make a new team, ”said Vela. He’s doing a great job, giving us the basics to be a team, and we’re working on making the ‘Bob’ concept and hopefully we’ll show a different game and we can be a strong team. We want to start the league in a good position. “
Vela added that he was encouraged by what he saw in such a short time and that the players were doing all they could to build the chemistry.
“Every day is better,” he said. “Of course, we need the confidence to speak up and see how you are, where you live, where you come from. We have to start as if you are at school where you have to meet all your new friends.
“And we are building to be a good team. These are the important things, we have to know each other and how to be the same.”
Vela is also aware that LAFC depends on him to be successful this season.
“It’s a big responsibility for me,” he said. “I feel like I have to because my teammates expect a lot from me. It’s my job, and if I’m doing well then the team can be a great team.”
Meanwhile, Vela attended the NBA All-Star weekend for the first time and declared himself a LeBron James No.1 fan, though he preferred it when the Cavaliers superstar played for the Miami Heat.
“I enjoy the show,” he said AS Mexico. “It’s a great experience. I always had to watch it on TV and it’s great to be here. Hope to be able to attend more events like this.
“I like basketball a lot, I always said that I would prefer to watch a basketball game a thousand times rather than a football game.”
Vela, born in Cancun, added: “I’ve always loved Miami [Heat] because it’s close to Cancun and I had the opportunity to watch several of their games. But I’m a LeBron fan. Everywhere he goes, I go. I am with the LeBron team until the end! “
Adriana Garcia, ESPN FC contributor, contributed to this report.