Carlos Vela revealed he previously received an offer he wanted to accept from Barcelona, only for Los Angeles FC to deny him a move.

The Mexico international was linked with a switch to the LaLiga giants in January last year.

Vela said he wanted to accept a four-month contract from Barcelona, only for the MLS club to step in.

"Barca offered a four-month contract at that time and I wanted to accept it because it was a very good opportunity," the forward told GQ Mexico.

"It wasn't saying, 'Oh, I want two years and if not, I'm not going'. They said four months and I'm going four.

"But LAFC did not give me permission to leave, although it is understandable. In the end, they seek what is best for the club.

"I tried and it didn't happen and nothing happens because I'm more than happy here."

Vela has dominated MLS since arriving in 2018, scoring an incredible 52 goals in just 64 appearances in the competition.

The 31-year-old said he was happy in the United States and believes MLS will continue to improve.

"They have great planning and infrastructure. They want to do it, they can do it and they do it as it should be. It's essential," Vela said.

He added: "You can't compare it with Europe because it will take time to at least compare them."

Carlos Vela provided another highlight as Los Angeles FC defeated Inter Miami 1-0 in their MLS debut on an historic evening.

Birthday boy Vela scored a stunning chip on the stroke of half-time to ensure reigning Supporters' Shield champions LAFC made the perfect start to the 2020 season on Sunday.

Co-owner David Beckham, his famous wife Victoria and Inter's hierarchy were in the stands as the expansion franchise made history in Los Angeles.

Inter battled in their first-ever MLS match but Diego Alonso's side came unstuck following a moment of brilliance from Vela on his 31st birthday.

Former Arsenal forward Vela – who scored a record-breaking 34 goals in a MVP season last term – chipped the ball over Inter captain and goalkeeper Luis Robles in the 44th minute at Banc of California Stadium.

"Surely we have to improve in football, but with this heart and with this intensity with which the team plays, we will surely win many games," said Inter head coach Alonso.

"Against maybe the best team in the league we gave a tremendous picture today of what we can become. With only six weeks of work, the merit is certainly from the footballers for what we have done today and the work they have done."

Seattle Sounders started their title defence with a dramatic 2-1 victory at home to Chicago Fire thanks to substitute Jordan Morris' brace.

Trailing to Robert Beric's 46th-minute opener, the Sounders equalised via Morris just past the hour mark before he netted the winner in the third minute of stoppage time.

Elsewhere, Kevin Molino scored twice as Minnesota United upstaged Portland Timbers 3-1, New York Red Bulls edged Cincinnati 3-2 and 10-man New York City lost 1-0 away to Columbus Crew.

Carlos Vela has been named the 2019 MLS MVP after a record-breaking season with Los Angeles FC.

Vela received 69 per cent of the weighted vote to beat LA Galaxy star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Atlanta United's Josef Martinez, and New York City pair Maxi Moralez and Heber to the award.

The 30-year-old Vela scored an unprecedented 34 goals in 31 regular-season appearances as LAFC claimed the Supporters' Shield.

Mexican forward Vela also supplied 15 assists to set a new MLS benchmark for goal involvements, surpassing Sebastian Giovinco's total of 38 (22 goals, 16 assists) for Toronto in 2015.

Despite taking his goal tally for the year to 36 with a double in the Western Conference semi-final victory over rivals the Galaxy, Vela drew a blank as Bob Bradley's team were eliminated from the MLS Cup play-offs by Seattle Sounders.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Carlos Vela have been named in the MLS Best XI for 2019.

LA Galaxy striker Ibrahimovic was named in the side for the second successive campaign after scoring 30 goals and assisting seven more in 29 regular-season matches.

Vela has enjoyed a stellar year with Los Angeles FC, meanwhile, having netted a single-season record 34 goals to win the Golden Boot and earn links with a move to LaLiga giants Barcelona.

LAFC won the Supporters' Shield and are well represented, with midfielder Eduard Atuesta and defender Walker Zimmerman also included.

There was also a place for Atlanta United's Josef Martinez, who broke his own MLS record by scoring a goal in 15 consecutive matches this year.

Vito Mannone got the nod in goal after making 129 saves in his debut campaign with Minnesota United, helping them qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time.

 

MLS Best XI: Vito Mannone (Minnesota); Ike Opara (Minnesota), Miles Robinson (Atlanta), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC); Alejandro Pozuelo (Toronto), Carles Gil (New England), Eduard Atuesta (LAFC), Maxi Moralez (NYCFC); Carlos Vela (LAFC), Josef Martinez (Atlanta), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy).

Bob Bradley took issue with criticism of Carlos Vela after the Los Angeles FC captain led his side to a first victory over rivals LA Galaxy in an instant El Trafico classic.

LAFC cruised to the Supporters' Shield title this year but had not previously beaten Galaxy in five attempts coming into a crunch MLS playoff on Thursday.

That run was ended in a gripping contest, though, as Vela netted twice, getting the better of Zlatan Ibrahimovic - on the scoresheet once - in an encounter that had been billed as a showdown between the league's two leading stars.

ESPN reported both Vela and Ibrahimovic refused to fulfil media duties ahead of the game, which LAFC won 5-3.

And coach Bradley then fumed when a reporter put to him that Vela, a former Arsenal and Real Sociedad star linked with Barcelona, had not previously delivered in big matches.

"Who asked those questions?" Bradley said to ESPN, glaring at the reporter. "Have they been asked this year? Why would we ask that question?

"For this season? Get lost. Get lost."

Vela's brace took his 2019 MLS tally to 36 goals in 32 games after a record-breaking regular season, while Ibrahimovic is now out of contract with Galaxy, having talked up a potential return to Europe.

Part-owner and Hollywood star Will Ferrell was in greater mood than Bradley to celebrate LAFC's success, leading chants alongside defender Walker Zimmerman.

"I think if we could have traded those five games to win this game, we'd do it in a heartbeat," he said. "What a great way to win, finally, in the playoffs, beat the Galaxy."

Ferrell added of the Western Conference final clash with Seattle Sounders: "It's going to be tough. They're playing really well at the right time. See, I know my stuff.

"But this was a huge mountain to get over the top of. We'll just see. It's a quick turnaround - Tuesday, right? I've got to stay limber."

Los Angeles FC finally beat rivals LA Galaxy 5-3 in a wild Western Conference semi-final that could have been Zlatan Ibrahimovic's last game in MLS.

Ibrahimovic is out of contract at the end of the season and the former AC Milan, Inter and Juventus striker has been linked with a January return to Serie A via Napoli, Bologna and the Nerazzurri.

Amid the uncertainty over his future, Ibrahimovic was unable to prolong the Galaxy's season as LAFC prevailed in an eight-goal thriller to advance to the Conference final on Thursday.

Supporters' Shield winners LAFC had never beaten the Galaxy in five previous fixtures but they quickly moved to end that drought thanks to Carlos Vela's first-half brace at Banc of California Stadium.

LAFC captain Vela broke the deadlock in the El Trafico derby, cutting inside onto his right foot and firing a low shot past Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham in the 16th minute.

Vela doubled the lead in the 40th minute, when he was on hand to side-foot into an empty net after Brian Rodriguez's selfless pass, before Ibrahimovic teed up Cristian Pavon a minute later.

Ibrahimovic put the visiting Galaxy on level terms 10 minutes into the second half but their joy quickly turned to despair as quick-fire goals from Diego Rossi and Adama Diomande restored LAFC's two-goal advantage with 22 minutes remaining.

Rolf Feltscher set up a frenetic finale by reducing the deficit to 4-3 in the 77th minute, however Diomande's stunning solo effort ended the Galaxy's hopes within three minutes.

Bob Bradley's LAFC will now meet Seattle Sounders for a spot in the MLS Cup final.

In the day's other match, defending champions Atlanta United accounted for Philadelphia Union 2-0.

Julian Gressel and Josef Martinez saw Frank de Boer's Atlanta advance and earn an Eastern Conference final date with Toronto.

The MLS playoffs are here once more.

Los Angeles FC cruised to the Supporters' Shield title, but the path to MLS Cup glory is far from straightforward even for the league's outstanding team.

Since 2011, only Toronto FC have successfully followed up a regular season championship by conquering the postseason.

Will LAFC join them, or can Bob Bradley's men be stopped? We take a look at the key issues surrounding the leading contenders heading into the playoffs.
 

ARE LAFC AND CARLOS VELA THE BEST EVER?

The above statistic may make for uncomfortable reading for Shield winners LAFC, but no past regular-season champions have been able to match the standards set by Bradley's side.

Toronto broke a points record that had stood for 19 years when they earned 69 in 2017, yet the New York Red Bulls bettered that last year and the new benchmark of 71 was topped once more by LAFC, a late-season slump merely limiting the runaway leaders to 72 points.

Carlos Vela was key to the team's achievements this year and any side hoping to stop LAFC must somehow master the Mexican. He scored a record 34 goals, including a final-day hat-trick, and will aim to echo Josef Martinez, the previous record-holder in 2018, by making his mark in the coming weeks.
 

CAN ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC AND THE GALAXY STOP THEIR RIVALS?

Having missed out on the postseason last year, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was rather bold - perhaps unsurprisingly - as he slammed the playoff structure in MLS earlier this term, believing it provides excuses for players not to deliver all year round.

The Swedish superstar has at least followed up those words by guiding LA Galaxy to the playoffs this time, while seemingly on a personal crusade to prove he is the greatest player in league history - sparking a rivalry with Vela.

Galaxy's style of play has not been particularly pretty since trading a potentially smart newly built side for long-ball-to-Zlatan early last year, but it has proved effective on occasion. Notably, LAFC still have not beaten their neighbours in five attempts and might fear another meeting.
 

HAVE NYCFC GOT WHAT IT TAKES WITHOUT BIG NAMES?

New York City made a big bang when they arrived in MLS, signing David Villa, Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard, but their star power counted for little in a desperate first season.

Club icon Villa then led NYCFC to the Eastern Conference semi-finals in three straight seasons, before departing at the end of 2018 with the team struggling to recreate the high level of performances under Patrick Vieira with new coach Domenec Torrent.

However, Torrent has got the Bronx outfit playing some of the best football in MLS this season, all without a standout star. The supposedly more modest talents of Anton Tinnerholm, Maxi Moralez, Alexandru Mitrita and Heber, among others, have fired City to the top of the conference, but the playoffs are a different beast.
 

IS THERE LIFE LEFT IN DEFENDING CHAMPS ATLANTA YET?

Despite failing to win the Shield, Atlanta United's class of 2018 might still have a case for being the best team in league history for the timebeing, but they then lost inspirational coach Tata Martino and star playmaker Miguel Almiron after MLS Cup.

Frank de Boer arrived and his infamously unconvincing record outside of Ajax looked set to continue early on, until a string of clean sheets steadied the ship. Even then, it took Martinez's sensational 15-game scoring streak to secure a comfortable playoff spot.

Pity Martinez has not really convinced and a late-season injury for Josef means Atlanta's preparation for their postseason title defence has not entirely gone to plan.
 

THE BEST OF THE REST...

Minnesota United have been a surprise package this year, having added experience last offseason, but a title push is surely beyond them. Rivals Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers both have experience of success at this time of year, however.

In the East, Wayne Rooney will hope to leave DC United on a high but the signs have not been promising late in the campaign. Philadelphia Union have impressed, while Toronto still have a very strong side on paper.

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