It didn’t take long for Carlos Vela to make his mark. Eight minutes into Wednesday’s rematch with the Netherlands, the 25-year-old forward put Mexico up 1-0 with a left-footed blast from outside the box to the top left corner off an assist from midfielder Hector Herrera. A leaping effort by Tim Krul was in vain, as the shot flew by the Dutch goalkeeper's outstretched arm.
It was a stunning goal for a player who entered the match as a major storyline. Vela is making his first appearance for Mexico in over three years. The Real Sociedad star was invited several times to come back to the team following an injury during the 2010 World Cup and a suspension, but it wasn’t until last week that supporters learned of his official return.
Head coach Miguel Herrera could have used Vela's talents during the World Cup in Brazil earlier this year, especially in the Round of 16 against the Netherlands. El Tri suffered a disappointing 2-1 loss to the Dutch after a controversial penalty call was made late in the match, when Arjen Robben was fouled by Rafael Marquez.
Over the last two years, Vela has netted 32 goals in 83 appearances for Sociedad, and before his hiatus he totaled nine goals in 35 appearances for Mexico.