LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela is likely to be sidelined for at least a few weeks by a left knee injury.
LAFC coach Bob Bradley said Tuesday that the reigning MLS MVP has a Grade 2 sprain of his medial collateral ligament. Bradley gave no timetable for Vela's return, but such injuries typically require a minimum of three weeks of rest and rehabilitation.
Vela came up limping on a noncontact play during the second half of LAFC's 2-0 loss to the LA Galaxy on Saturday. It wasn't clear whether the star forward had been injured on an earlier play, but he walked slowly off the field and needed help to return to the locker room.
The 31-year-old Vela had the most prolific season in MLS history last year with LAFC, setting the league record with 34 goals. He also had 15 assists, setting another league record for combined scoring.
Vela then scored in each of LAFC's first two matches this season before the pause because of the coronavirus pandemic. He declined to play in the MLS Is Back tournament in Florida last month, citing family concerns.
Vela's absence is an obstacle for LAFC, which has built its attack on the impressive finishing skills of the first player ever signed by the franchise. MLS also is in a busy stretch of its schedule, with LAFC facing five games in 19 days starting with its trip to Real Salt Lake on Wednesday.
LAFC is off to a relatively slow start to the season after winning the Supporters' Shield last year, and Vela's lengthy absence will compound its challenges. Goal-scoring Norwegian forward Adama Diomande abruptly left the club earlier this month, and LAFC's only remaining veteran striker is Bradley Wright-Phillips, the 35-year-old club newcomer who scored three goals in a splashy debut during the MLS tournament.