Carlos Vela equalled the Major League Soccer single-season scoring record with his 31st strike of the season as LAFC drew with Minnesota United on Sunday.
In the 70th minute of a scoreless match that saw the visitors dominate possession at Allianz Field, Vela blasted a left-footed strike that looped inside the far post. The strike gave LAFC the lead and eventually – along with the NYCFC loss – secured the Supporters’ Shield.
The goal matched the single-season record of 31 goals set by Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez last season.
Minnesota was able to muster an immediate response and level the score just five minutes later in the eventual 1-1 draw, but it wouldn’t matter as LAFC completed its regular season quest, topping the Western Conference by a massive 16-point margin and leaving them eight points clear of NYCFC for the Supporters’ Shield.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic also remains in the hunt for the goalscoring record, remaining three back of Vela’s total with an early strike in the LA Galaxy’s wild 4-3 home loss to Vancouver. Zlatan tied up the score at one-all as he poked home Cristian Pavon’s cut cross that reached the Swedish international at the penalty spot.
The goal put Ibra on 29 for the season, two behind Vela’s total. Despite just having one match to go to catch his cross-town rival, it would be silly to count out Ibrahimovic who would need a hat-trick to pass Vela and set the record all on his own.
With the single-season goalscoring record on the line next weekend as the season wraps up, LAFC will host the Colorado Rapids while the Galaxy travel to the Houston Dynamo. The Rapids have conceded 60 goals this season in 42 matches, the second-worst defensive record in the West and third-words in the league. Houston has also struggled defensively, with 57 goals conceded this campaign.