Carlos Vela has been named the 2019 MLS MVP after a record-breaking season with Los Angeles FC.
Vela received 69 percent of the weighted vote to beat LA Galaxy star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez, and New York City pair Maxi Moralez and Heber to the award.
The Mexican star earned 80.33 percent of the player vote, 65 percent of club votes and 64 percent of the media vote to win the award in landslide fashion.
“For me [this trophy] is just a reward for all the effort, all the work every day at training,” Vela when presented with the award in Los Angeles on Monday. “I’m really happy to get this trophy.”
The 30-year-old Vela scored an unprecedented 34 goals in 31 regular-season appearances as LAFC claimed the Supporters’ Shield, topping Martinez’s goal-scoring record set just last season while claiming this season’s Golden Boot.
The Mexican forward also supplied 15 assists to set a new MLS benchmark for goal involvements, surpassing Sebastian Giovinco’s total of 38 (22 goals, 16 assists) for Toronto in 2015.
Despite taking his goal tally for the year to 36 with a double in the Western Conference semi-final victory over rivals the Galaxy, Vela drew a blank as Bob Bradley’s team were eliminated from the MLS Cup playoffs by Seattle Sounders.
“This trophy just makes me more hungry. The next step is to be champion,” Vela said, referencing the defeat. “I will work very hard to get that trophy for my team, for my club. This one is just OK, but I want the other one.”
Following a regular-season campaign that saw the club break the points record, Vela’s MVP award is the second major individual honor claimed by LAFC.
Head coach Bradley was recognized as MLS Coach of the Year, and the former U.S. men’s national team boss said that Vela played a massive role in everything LAFC achieved this season due to his on-the-field contributions and off-the-field leadership.
“On a team, there are different kinds of leaders, but it’s really important that your best player plays a big role. We challenged Carlos to see what a great leader he could be. To understand that it’s not just coming in and doing his thing on the field but showing other guys the best way to do a thing,” Bradley said.
“As he continues to mature, he’s been able to understand what he means to his teammates. That’s effectively what being a great leader is all about.”