In 2019, Carlos Vela scored more goals in a single season than any other player in any season prior. His team, LAFC, also set a few records too. This was the greatest season in MLS history.
It was the final match of the 2019 MLS season. Los Angeles FC played host to the Colorado Rapids. They had already clinched a playoff spot — and the Supporters’ Shield title — while Colorado needed a win and other results to go their way in order to sneak into seventh place in the Western Conference and receive a spot in the playoffs. But for all of the team jostling that took place on Sunday, there was one man who stole the show in L.A.
LAFC started the game tweaking the line-up once again. Tyler Miller started back in goal with Latif Blessing, Walker Zimmerman, and Jordan Harvey reinstated to the starting XI. The game started with LAFC playing with a vivacious, upbeat tempo and they immediately played the role of the aggressor. Predictably, it was that man who instigated it all.
Carlos Vela was hungry to rewrite history.
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He needed just one goal to break Josef Martinez’s single-season goal-scoring record. You could tell by how he played. Vela constantly pressed the Rapids defense, he was always searching for the ball, always looking to score. And so, the deadlock was broken in the 28th minute, there was only one man who could possibly have been on hand.
With a beautifully placed pass from Latif Blessing, Vela was left unmarked and fired a shot from outside the 18-yard box to score his 32nd goal of the season. It was a typical Vela finish, curling, dipping, scraping around the sprawling, futile efforts of a grasping goalkeeper, all executed from the wand of a left foot. That was enough for the record. But Vela wasn’t finished.
Vela pounced again on the Rapids defense scoring an outrageous bicycle kick in the box from an incoming headed pass by Brian Rodriguez just three minutes after scoring his first goal. Vela then sealed his outstanding hat-trick in the 50th minute, tapping home from a low Tristan Blackmon cross.
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With this performance, Vela sealed the deal winning the Golden Boot with a grand total of 34 goals. His closest rival was Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who finished the year with 30 goals. Perhaps what is most remarkable is that Vela also ended the year with 15 assists, good for third-most in MLS. He has the highest number of combined goals and assists in MLS history, and it is not even close. Vela will be the MLS MVP and his season has been the best of all time.
Vela’s immaculate form must continue as the playoffs kick off in two weeks. He is vital to LAFC and their MLS Cup hopes. Bob Bradley’s side will be hungry to win another title after clinching the Supporters’ Shield, emulating Toronto FC in 2017, the team largely viewed as the greatest in MLS prior to his past season from LAFC.
And 2019 truly was a brilliant year for the Black and Gold. They finished the campaign with 21 wins, nine draws, and four losses. They had a goal difference of plus-48, scored 85 goals and took over 600 shots, all MLS records. It was not just Vela ripping the record books to shreds.
Given their dominance, LAFC are now the favorites to win the MLS Cup. And it is Vela who is at the heart of it. This truly was the greatest MLS season in history.