Carlos Vela believes he is firmly over the injury troubles which hindered the early part of his campaign, though is latest goal streak is yet to inspire Los Angeles FC.
Vela did not score until June 26, but has now netted four times in as many games since July 18.
However, only against Real Salt Lake – the first game in that run – have LAFC taken the three points, with Minnesota United hitting back to draw late on last time out.
“I have played the last games without pain. I have been able to enjoy playing and not thinking about the injury. And it shows that I have more confidence in my movements, more rhythm,” Vela said ahead of Wednesday’s meeting with Sporting Kansas City.
“I no longer have any problems, there are no excuses, I just need to play well and help the team.”Bob Bradley, meanwhile, was taking the positives from the late disappointment against Minnesota.
“You get back from it by still seeing the positives, the mentality. You don’t get the points back, the feeling of giving up that goal, we’ve let that happen too many times this year,” Bradley said.
“I still was positive with the group in terms of how we went after the game. I though the guys were dialed in, concentrating at the end so for me those are the positives.”
Sporting missed the chance to leapfrog Seattle Sounders at the top of the Western Conference when they lost to FC Dallas last weekend.
“I don’t think we expected the game to be as fast as it was, for some reason, at the start,” Peter Vermes said.
“I have no complaints about our guys other than we have to be ready for the start of the game. I’ll make sure that happens next time.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
LAFC – Carlos Vela
Vela has scored in four straight MLS appearances, his fourth run of at least four straight games with a goal since joining MLS in 2018.
Sporting Kansas City – Johnny Russell
Johnny Russell netted Sporting’s goal in the loss to Dallas. His last five MLS goals have been headers, dating back to last season. The forward only netted one of his first 23 goals in the league with his head.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Kansas City has won three of their five all-time meetings with Los Angeles FC (L2), including a 2-1 home win on June 26.
– There has been only one clean sheet over the five matches as Sporting won, 2-0, at LAFC in August 2018 in the first meeting between the sides.
– Hassani Dotson’s equalizer for Minnesota United against LAFC on July 28 came at 94 minutes, 39 seconds, the latest match-tying or winning goal in MLS this season. Those two dropped points gave LAFC 14 points dropped from winning positions this season, most in MLS in 2021.
– Kansas City’s five-match unbeaten run (W4 D1) ended with a 2-1 home loss to Dallas on Saturday. Sporting’s only two-match losing streak since the start of last season also began with a home defeat to FC Dallas, in September 2020.
– The only player to score in five straight matches in 2021 was New England’s Gustavo Bou, from May to July, with Vela in the hunt to match this streak.