Carlos Vela closed the Real Sociedad chapter of his career with a storybook ending, scoring in stoppage time of his final game with the La Liga team.
The Mexico international is set to move to MLS expansion side LAFC this winter and came on in the 78th minute of La Real's match with Sevilla. The Basque club already was leading 2-1 when Vela entered the match, but he capped off both the contest and his career in Spain with a goal.
Vela started the play, moving the ball back to Xabi Prieto after getting it near the midfield circle. The playmaker looped a ball toward Inigo Matinez, who was pushing forward on the left side. Martinez sent the ball into the penalty area, where Vela was making a run, and the 28-year-old knocked home hs 73rd goal for the club across all competitions.
The finish set off wild celebrations with Vela and his teammates embracing. Once he'd escaped the mob, Vela kissed the badge of the club where he said earlier this week that he'd had some of the best moments of his life.
2018 will be a formative year for Vela. Not only did the former Arsenal striker elect to join the LAFC expansion project, he also will look to make his return to the World Cup. Vela was part of El Tri's 2010 team but shortly after became estranged from the national team setup.
He's been a regular since current manager Juan Carlos Osorio took over in the fall of 2015, and his place in the squad bound for Russia seems secure. There will, however, be worries about his move to MLS from La Liga, one of the most competitive leagues in the world. Vela also has scored just once in his last 10 appearances for the national team.
LAFC will take on second-division side Sacramento Republic as part of its preseason preparations before opening the MLS season March 4 against the Seattle Sounders.