2019 MLS MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
“Every day I’m trying to be better. Be a better player, a better teammate,” Vela said after LAFC’s second match of the season. “And in the end, I’m working to be the MVP of the league. If I want to do that, I have to show every game how good I am.”
Throughout the season, Vela would calmly reiterate his intentions when asked about his performances after matches. More brazen proclamations about breaking records and winning awards had been made by others this season. Vela went about his business on the pitch week in and week out.
Over the course of the 31 matches Vela played this season, he never went more than one match without scoring. The LAFC captain had streaks of four and five matches with at least one goal. He finished the season on a nine-match scoring streak, including a hat trick on the final day.
Vela set a new MLS record for goals in a season with 34. He also led the league in shots, shots on goal, goals away from home, and goals per 90. Vela led the league in penalties scored with nine. A fact some used to refute his season’s eminence, as if scoring from the spot in pivotal moments was a fait accompli. But for good measure, Vela led the league in non-penalty goals with 25 – also a record.
Vela wasn’t simply a poacher on the pitch though. He added 15 assists to his unprecedented goal tally. Directly involved in 49 goals via scoring or assisting, Vela equaled or bettered the offensive output of nine MLS teams.