LAFC IN 2019
To be considered a big club, there are certain prerequisites.
Loyal supporters. Iconic stadium. Great players. A connection to your city. A certain style of play.
From the start, LAFC has checked box after box after box.
Since kicking its first ball in MLS, LAFC set new marks for what an expansion team in MLS could be, both on and off the pitch. The Black & Gold entered league play with a historic start. The Club had five players selected to provisional rosters for that summer’s World Cup – most in MLS. An Open Cup semifinal was reached. By season’s end, a playoff spot was secured and a new mark for most points in an expansion season was set with 57.
Returning 16 players from the inaugural season, LAFC picked up where it left off in Year Two. LAFC sat atop the MLS table from Week 4 of the season and never looked back. Behind the most goals scored and fewest conceded this season, the Black & Gold ran away with the top spot in the Western Conference, securing its first taste of international football in 2020 in the Concacaf Champions League.
But one box remained unchecked.
Big clubs win trophies.
On September 25, in a 3-1 victory against the Houston Dynamo, LAFC and its Supporters lifted the first trophy in Club history. The Supporters’ Shield is Black & Gold.
Prior to 2019, only 12 clubs in MLS had won the 2019 Supporters’ Shield. LAFC becomes the 13th and the first to claim a stake to the best team of the MLS regular season in just a year after an expansion season.
In a fitting end to a MLS regular season where head coach Bob Bradley orchestrated a roster that produced the best MLS regular season (21-4-9), with three more wins and two fewer losses than the next closest teams, he was awarded the Sigi Schmid Coach of the Year, his third, joining New England Revolution head coach Bruce Arena with the most in MLS history.
Firsts continued into the 2019 MLS Playoffs, with the Black and Gold defeating rivals LA Galaxy 5-3 in the Western Conference Semifinal in a match that provided unrelenting excitement with MVP Carlos Vela netting two goals and an assist and forwards Adama Diomande and Diego Rossi adding statement goals to finish off the night.
Following a season for the record books - most points in a season, best goal differential, Supporters’ Shield, tied for the most goals all-time, etc. - and after finally overcoming its bitter rival to advance to within one match of the MLS Cup, LAFC fell short. A 3-1 loss to the Seattle Sounders put an end to the historic season.
In a season that fell short of the MLS Cup, but saw a team and coaching staff come together to produce some of the greatest moments in league history, it is also important to note the individual success of league MVP Carlos Vela.
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, and also led the league in non- penalty goals with 25 – also a record.
Vela 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.
Since 2015, pundits have held aloft Sebastian Giovinco’s first season with Toronto FC as the “single greatest in MLS history.” That year, Giovinco scored 22 goals and added 16 assists, amassing a record 38 combined goals and assists. No player had ever reached 20g/15a levels prior to Giovinco.
Vela equaled Giovinco’s greatest season totals in August, just 23 matches into his 2019 season. Had he not played another match all season, Vela would have been a lock for MLS MVP. The fact he went on to score another 11 goals in the season’s final month and a half created a whole new level of greatest in MLS: the first 30g/15g player.
- Most points in a regular season (72)
- Highest ever goal differential (+48)
- Most goals by a single player (34 – Carlos Vela)
- Most combined goals and assists by a single player (34 / 15 – Carlos Vela)
- Most goals by a duo (50 - Carlos Vela / Diego Rossi)
- Fastest to clinch a playoff spot (25 Games)
- Fastest Club to 100 points (53)
- Most points in a Club’s first two seasons (129)
- Most shots (621)
- Fastest player to score 20 goals (21 Games)
- Most goals by a Mexican player (MLS Career: 48 – Carlos Vela)
- Most goals scored in a regular season (85 – tied with ’98 Galaxy)
- Least losses in an MLS season (4 – ‘05 San Jose Earthquakes / ‘10 Real Salt Lake / ‘10 FC Dallas)
Major MLS Honors:
- 2019 MLS Sigi Schmid Coach of the Year: Bob Bradley
- 2019 Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player: Carlos Vela
- 2019 Fast Company list of Most Innovative Companies in The World
- Best Employer in Sports List for 2019 – Front Office Sports
- Qualified - 2020 CONCACAF Champions League
- Front Office Of The Year – Independent Supporters Council
- MLS Doug Hamilton Executive of The Year – Larry Freedman
- Forbes 30 Under 30 – Ryan Bishara
- Adweek’s L.A. Brand Star Winner – Rich Orosco
- GameOps.com – Best Team Operations of 2019 – LAFC/Al Raitt MLS Club Executive Award Winner – Ticket Sales Team Of The Year – MLS Club Executive Award Winner – Business Analytics Team of the Year