Vela’s late goal sends unbeaten LAFC past Cincinnati 2-0
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Carlos Vela and Los Angeles FC are both off to incredible starts to the season. Although the star forward and his teammates both had to work a little harder to keep it up Saturday night, they got it done in style.
Vela scored his eighth goal of the young season, Tyler Miller earned his third consecutive shutout and LAFC extended its unbeaten start to seven games with a 2-0 victory over expansion FC Cincinnati.
Mark-Anthony Kaye headed home a corner from Vela in the 32nd minute, and Vela scored on a remarkable individual effort in injury time as the overall MLS leaders improved to 6-0-1.
Although LAFC did it with few of its usual offensive fireworks, the club still has an MLS-record 21 goals in its first seven games — a big chunk of those from Vela, who leads the league in both goals and assists.
“I started really well this season, but it’s long,” Vela said. “I have to keep working every day and show something for my team.”
LAFC also has shut out three straight opponents for the first time in franchise history, allowing no goals since March 23. Miller’s shutout streak has reached 325 minutes, and he kept it intact with two saves — including a spectacular one-handed leaping stop on Darren Mattocks late in the first half.
“I don’t think we were as sharp as we would like,” LAFC coach Bob Bradley said. “Makes for a hard game. (Cincinnati) worked very hard, put a lot into it. The good news is we still got a shutout.”
In front of another sellout crowd in its sparkling downtown stadium, LAFC extended its impressive start in the first meeting between MLS’ two newest franchises. Cincinnati has two wins out of its first seven MLS games, but gave a stern test to its second-year opponents.
Kaye opened the scoring after a prolonged period of ball dominance by LAFC. Vela’s corner went straight to the Canadian midfielder, who headed it home from distance for his second goal of the season.
“They came in with a good game plan to disrupt us, and it wasn’t a pretty game,” Kaye said.
LAFC only got comfortable after Vela took on two defenders and chipped home a low shot in the 93rd minute. Vela’s eight goals and five assists are both tops in MLS, and he added to both totals even with Cincinnati constantly sending multiple defenders at him.
Vela and Diego Rossi were MLS’ top two goal scorers entering the weekend, combining for 13 goals in six games. LAFC’s two stars combined for 12 shots against Cincinnati, putting five on goal, but couldn’t score until Vela connected.
LAFC also won without injured veterans Adama Diomande and Lee Nguyen.