Despite having its No. 1 playoff seeding and the 2019 Supporters Shield secured, Los Angeles FC opted for a strong starting lineup as it looked to add another mark: the all-time record for points in an MLS season. It was also an opportunity for LAFC striker Carlos Vela to break the all-time record for goals scored in a season.
LAFC broke both.
Bob Bradley’s side defeated the Colorado Rapids 3-1 at Banc of California Stadium, snuffing out the slim chance the Rapids at making the playoffs entering Major League Soccer’s Decision Day.
With the win, LAFC set an all-time record of 72 points for the season and Vela’s hat trick gave the Mexican International 34 regular-season goals. Josef Martinez held the previous record after scoring 30 goals in 2018.
Vela opened the scoring with a laser from outside the 18-yard box into the upper 90, giving the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 29th minute. Moments later, Vela made it 2-0, collecting a pass from Tristan Blackmon inside the six-yard box, spinning and then hitting a bicycle kick to score the brace.
It was indicative of the offensive pressure Colorado had absorbed for the opening half hour. But in the 40th minute, the Rapids pulled a goal back. Kei Kamara’s header off a Diego Rubio cross helped Colorado pull the score to 2-1 before halftime.
LAFC extended its lead again and Vela completed a hat trick by slotting home a low cross from Blackmon for a 3-1 advantage in the 51st minute.
In the 65th minute, LAFC defender Walker Zimmerman collided with Kamara and sustained a head injury, prompting his substitution for Lee Nguyen in the 70th minute.
LAFC closed out the win and ended the match outshooting its opponent 15-10 while holding 64 percent possession.
Oct 6, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela (10) celebrates with his team after scoring his first goal of the game in the first half against the Colorado Rapids at Banc of California Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
With the loss, Colorado’s season comes to a close and the 3-1 result will stand as goalkeeper Tim Howard’s final match as a player. The 40-year-old tallied two saves in the effort.
As the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed entering the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, LAFC will play its next match on either Oct. 23 or 24, hosting the winner of the first-round match between No. 4 seed Minnesota United and No. 5 seed LA Galaxy, a series which will take place the weekend of Oct. 19.