LAFC’s Carlos Vela, Tristan Blackmon getting healthy at right time – Press Enterprise

LAFC’s Carlos Vela, Tristan Blackmon getting healthy at right time – Press Enterprise

With the regular season winding down, the Los Angeles Football Club welcomed back a pair of key pieces to its puzzle on Sunday as Carlos Vela and Tristan Blackmon returned from injuries.

Vela, the 2019 MLS MVP, had been out since suffering an MCL sprain against the Galaxy on Aug. 22. Blackmon had a hamstring injury, forcing him to miss the last seven games.

Vela played 20 minutes as a substitute and scored a goal. Blackmon played 13 minutes.

“They both gave us good minutes coming in,” LAFC coach Bob Bradley said. “Now, we will try to be smart how we move that forward. I don’t think you’ll see any crazy jumps in minutes. There’s still the three remaining regular-season games to see if we can build things up in a way and then have that period of time to train before the playoffs start.”

Both players will look to take another positive step in their return when LAFC (8-7-4, 28 points) hosts the Houston Dynamo (4-7-9, 21 points) on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. (Ch. 62, YouTube TV).

“As far as Carlos, we’re excited that he’s back and it was great to see him score a goal,” Bradley said. “When you move players along, you’ve got to be smart with minutes. You don’t want to move them too fast and back up in terms of how they feel.

“We based everything on what is the load like in training every day, and then we build with three games, to have him at his best at the end of the year when the games will count for the most.”

The return of Blackmon will help LAFC fortify its defense. Latif Blessing has filled in at right back during Blackmon’s absence.

“The staff, the players and all the guys around the facility have kept me going, kept motivated, wanting to get back as soon as I could,” Blackmon said. “I felt good in training, the last week and a half or so (before Sunday’s game), really pushing the tempo for myself and getting back into the groove of things.

“It felt good. … I was happy to be back on the pitch, it was a great opportunity for me to come back into the squad and I will be looking to build my fitness and getting my touches right.”

Following Wednesday’s game, LAFC visits San Jose on Sunday, then will host Portland on Nov. 8 to close the regular season.

“These last (three) games are very important,” Blackmon said. “We have to keep going, keep pushing our levels individually and as a collective. We have to do that in training every day, coming out with the right mentality and looking to work as hard as we can.”