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Pedro de la Vega shines in debut

Sounders Young Designated Player scores, injects some life into new teamamtes.

Last Updated
2 min read
Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES – It was not exactly the fairy-tale debut that he surely imagined it might be, but Pedro de la Vega’s performance was an obvious bright spot in what was otherwise a frustrating 2-1 season-opening loss to LAFC on Saturday.

The midfielder came into the match in the 64th minute, replacing Léo Chú, and immediately started making an impact. When Jordan Morris was tackled from behind to draw a penalty, it was de la Vega who stepped up and calmly slotted it into the net.

“I’m happy for the debut, but unhappy with the result,” de la Vega said through a translator. “There were good things that were happening on the field, especially fighting until the end, but what’s left now is to prepare for the next game.”

The goal at least temporarily gave the Sounders some added life. Forced to play without four likely starters due to injuries, the Sounders had done a decent job of creating chances but found themselves trailing 2-0 when de la Vega came on.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t find the equalizer, but de la Vega was certainly doing his best to help the cause. He finished with 22 touches in just 26 minutes, was 3-for-4 on dribbles and won 4 of 7 duels.

After missing most of preseason while recovering from a hamstring injury, de la Vega was still on a strict minutes limit. He had also just rejoined the team late on Friday after completing his visa process in Canada earlier in the day.

Despite the relative lack of training time with his new teammates, it feels notable that, even before referee Wesley Costa pointed to the spot following a more than four-minute video review, de la Vega was already preparing himself to take the penalty. He opened his hips slightly, sending legendary goalkeeper Hugo Lloris the wrong way and almost passing the ball into the net. He immediately grabbed the ball and ran it back to the center circle, barely even pausing to celebrate.

“The main help that I got was being given the trust of my teammates,” de la Vega said. “They told me I was good to take the penalty and that really helped with the trust in myself. It was a good moment because we still had time to fight for the result.”