Carlos Vela made an immediate splash in Major League Soccer when he arrived with Los Angeles FC last season. 2019 has been a major step forward for Vela, who set an individual league record in LAFC’s road win on Saturday night.
Vela scored his 24th league goal of the season in his 24th appearance, helping LAFC to a 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake. It was Vela’s 39th point of the season, which broke former Toronto FC star Sebastian Giovinco’s record of total goals and assists in a single season. Not only did Vela break the record, but he helped his side clinch a playoff berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
“It’s always important and a good feeling to win, but more so when you play on the road,” Vela said. “The team is having a great season. Every time we come to the field we want to win and play good. We are trying to get better and finish strong every match and we will continue to try and do that.”
“It’s always good to set a record, it’s important not only for me, but also for the team because without them it is not possible. It’s a record for everybody that is part of the team so I am thankful for them.”
LAFC had to fight for a breakthrough against their in-form conference opponents, finally scoring in the 64th minute. Vela slotted home from the penalty spot after the forward was fouled by Aaron Herrera two minutes prior. Herrera was shown a straight red card which evened the playing field to both sides playing with 10 men.
Adama Diomande iced the win for Bob Bradley’s side with eight minutes to go, giving LAFC their 18th league win of the season. It was a gutsy performance by the league leaders, who continued to ride their talented offensive attack and MVP candidate in Vela.
“We have a good group and we find different ways to win,” Bradley said. “We try to find different ways to push the football and I think the team has done well to adapt to that. That goes down to the mentality of the group which has been great.”
“So far it’s been an amazing season for Carlos, he’s been scoring goals and setting up goals which the record he broke is about,” Bradley said. “He’s also been a fantastic leader for the team in helping his teammates. There is more to go this season, but he’s done such a fantastic job for us.”
After netting his 24th goal of the season, Vela is now seven goals away from tying Josef Martinez’s record for most goals in a single season, a mark that was set in 2018. The team has nine matches remaining, five of which are against teams currently in playoff positions. Although Bradley may be forced to rest some starters later in the season to prepare for the playoffs, the team looks to be flying at the right time and are eager to get after their next opponent.
“San Jose is a tough team, but one we are familiar with after facing them twice already this season,” Diomande said. “It will be another good test for us and one we will need to be ready for. We have been doing well and this will be another example to show the league what we can do.”