Carlos Vela re-signs with LAFC through 2023 season

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LAFC's Carlos Vela (10) runs down field against the Colorado Rapids on Feb. 26, 2022.
LAFC's Carlos Vela runs down the field during a game against the Colorado Rapids earlier this season. (Michael Owens / Associated Press)

Carlos Vela re-signed with LAFC on Tuesday, extending his tenure with the Major League Soccer leaders through the 2023 season.

Vela and LAFC finally announced the long-rumored new deal for the 2019 MLS most valuable player during preparations for their match against FC Dallas on Wednesday night.

“For me, Carlos has been the best player in this league for a good part of his time here, and we are eager to see what else he brings to this team and the city,” LAFC general manager John Thorrington said. “We believe Carlos will help us deliver on our ambition to win championships here in L.A.”

The Mexican striker became the first player in LAFC's history in August 2017 when the expansion club signed him away from La Liga’s Real Sociedad nearly seven months before its first match. Vela has scored 73 goals in 118 total appearances for the franchise, including a league-record 34 goals in 31 games while earning the league MVP award in 2019.

The 33-year-old Vela was limited by significant injuries in both 2020 and 2021, but he has returned as LAFC’s leading scorer this season with six goals and three assists. His contract was set to expire at the end of June, but Vela and LAFC completed most of the key negotiations on this new deal two months ago, Thorrington said.

The club sits atop the overall league standings at 10-3-3 under first-year coach Steve Cherundolo. LAFC is about to get better with the imminent arrivals of Welsh forward Gareth Bale and Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini, who should both be eligible to play next week.

Vela is one of LAFC's two designated players, who are allowed to be paid above the MLS salary cap. LAFC still has a third designated player slot open to make another addition alongside Bale and Chiellini, who were signed without using a designated player slot.

Vela spent seven seasons at Real Sociedad in the Spanish league before returning to North America. He began his European career by signing with Arsenal as a teenager in 2005.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.