Carlos Vela wants to be recognized as one of the best players in Major League Soccer. If he can string together more showings like the one he had Saturday in a 5-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes, the Mexican star will be.
Vela was at his brilliant best for Los Angeles FC as they dominated the winless Earthquakes, scoring three times in leading Bob Bradley's side to another win as their strong start to the season continues.
The win keeps LAFC at the top of the Western Conference, while Vela has no racked up six goals through five matches and leads the league in scoring, leaving the 30-year-old hoping he can make his mark as the top player in the league.
"I always work to be the best player," he told reporters after Saturday's win. "Of course, when I was in Spain we have [Lionel] Messi, we have Cristiano [Ronaldo] and it’s impossible to be the best.
"But here, I feel like I am on a good level, I still have a good feeling. I know I can be one of the best in this league so I’m trying to show it every game."
A mistake from San Jose goalkeeper Daniel Vega gifted Vela the first of his three goals on Saturday, but his pace and precision made the other two happen.
His third was nothing short of brilliant as he curled a shot from 25 yards out into the top corner of the net.
And Vela, who played for Mexico at the 2018 World Cup but was not part of Tata Martino's side for recently friendly wins over Chile and Mexico, leading to questions about his place with El Tri moving forward, says his full socus at the moment is on helping the second-year franchise reach its peak.
Magic. 💫 pic.twitter.com/KR0zopCPu8— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 30, 2019
"Focus now on LAFC," he said. "I’m trying to have a good season and the rest you never know. You have to be in touch with the national team, but for the moment I’m just focused on here, on my team, and just trying to do my best."
Competitive action will return for Mexico and the rest of Concacaf this summer with the 2019 Gold Cup, and while the 30-year-old has made it clear he would like to focus on his club career, he wasn't ruling out a return to El Tri in the future.
"I’d have to speak with Tata and... you never know," he responded when asked if he would accept a call up from Mexico's new boss.
For now, LAFC will be happy to have Vela in the lineup, with even the player himself saying he was nearing the best form of his career.
"One of the best," he said with a smile when asked where his current form ranks for him. "But I still have more. More to come."