Former Arsenal forward Carlos Vela netted a hat-trick as LAFC crushed Colorado Rapids 3-0 on the opening day of the 2022 MLS season on Saturday.
Vela struck twice within six first-half minutes, first from the penalty spot before getting in behind the Colorado defence and calmly finishing past goalkeeper William Yarbrough.
The former Mexico international produced his best goal of the game to complete his hat-trick in the 50th minute, curling in a fine left-footed shot from just inside the box.
Vela only managed five goals from 20 MLS appearances last season with LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo cautiously optimistic about his potential impact this term.
“We will have to wait and see what it does. But I think we all know what he can do,” Cherundolo said. “He showed it again today and he worked very hard in preseason to get to where he is today. I’m very happy for him and the group that we’re all rewarded for it.”
A HAT TRICK WITH 40′ LEFT TO PLAY.
— LAFC (@LAFC) February 26, 2022
Yimmi Chara’s spectacular 78th-minute goal earned Portland Timbers a 2-2 draw with 2021 Supporters’ Shield winners New England Revolution.
Portland, who reached the MLS Cup final last year, found a way back with Chara firing home a stunning overhead goal while Jozy Altidore debuted for the Revs as a 79th-minute substitute.
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) February 27, 2022
Ex-Liverpool and Bayern Munich midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri made his debut for Chicago Fire as they drew a blank in a 0-0 draw at Inter Miami.
Leonardo Campana’s 10th-minute header from Gonzalo Higuain’s cross hit the crossbar for Miami, while Chicago’s Stanislav Ivanov struck the upright in the 31st minute. Shaqiri was impressive throughout, with a long-range first-half chance his only major goal attempt.
Toronto, who made a major off-season signing with Lorenzo Insigne to join in July, only managed a 1-1 draw at Dallas.
Philadelphia Union started its new season with a 1-1 home draw against Minnesota United, with Cory Burke levelling Robin Lod’s 23rd-minute strike.
New York Red Bulls won 3-1 at San Jose Earthquakes, while Columbus Crew swept aside 10-man Vancouver Whitecaps 4-0.
Cecilio Dominguez netted a double as Austin won 5-0 over last year’s bottom side Cincinnati, while Michael Estrada scored a brace as DC United eased past newcomers Charlotte 3-0.
Have a go, Shaq pic.twitter.com/AKhBCBhRKF
— Chicago Fire FC (@ChicagoFire) February 26, 2022
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