Carlos Vela Named Major League Soccer MVP
November 7, 2019
It's finally official. Carlos Vela has been named the 2019 Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player. For LAFC fans it was a foregone conclusion midway through the season as the 30-year old team captain led the Black and Gold to the best season record ever in MLS history. He did it with style and grace while also setting the league record for most goals in a season with 34.
Vela easily beat out Zlatan Ibrahimovic of the L.A. Galaxy, Josef Martinez of Atlanta United FC and Maxi Moralez of NYCFC by receiving almost 70 percent of the combined vote by the players, clubs and media. Validating his award, he received the most support from the players, a whopping 80.3 percent of their votes. The clubs and the media voted 64.6 percent and 63.8 percent for Vela, respectively.
"It's a pleasure. It's a privilege to be the MVP of the league," said Vela upon receiving the MVP trophy. "It's the reward to all my effort, my work I make every day. And this is a trophy for all the club, all my teammates, for me, for my family. So, I'm really happy to be the MVP."
Vela hoped the award would inspire others from his country as he became the first MLS player of Mexican descent to win the award: "I always try to put Mexico on the top of everything. So, this award is something cool for me because I try to show to the world the Mexicans, that we are good. We are doing great things. I hope this can help another person to try to be important and try to be the best in his job."
The MVP award took some of the sting out of LAFC's unexpected and disheartening Western Conference Championship 3-1 loss last week to the Seattle Sounders at Banc of California Stadium. It was also the second individual league award LAFC has received in this postseason. Head coach Bob Bradley was named winner of the 2019 Sigi Schmid Coach of the Year award early last week.
Vela on Coach Bradley: "Coach is different. Every coach has a different way to come into a player. Bob, I think gets the right way to go for me. He helped me a lot. He pushed me hard to be the best player and finally we get it. So, this award is part of Bob."
Bradley, who led Los Angeles Football Club to a historic year in only its second year as a franchise, won the award for the third time in his coaching career. He is now tied with colleague Bruce Arena for most MLS COTY awards. LAFC set numerous league records this season including the all-time best season mark of 72 points with a 21-4-9 team record.
The New York Red Bulls had just set the mark with 71 points last season. LAFC's +48 goal differential obliterated the previous mark of +41 set by the Los Angeles Galaxy in 1998. They also tied the MLS team record of 85 goals set by the same '98 Galaxy team.
Bradley received an average of 48 percent of the voting in winning the award. Dome Torrent of New York City Football Club finished second in the balloting at 15.8 percent followed by Jim Curtin of Philadelphia Union with 13.1 percent of the vote.
Vela received words of praise from many well-known Angelenos who follow Los Angeles Football Club: LAFC co-owner and former Laker great Magic Johnson: "I just want to say congratulations on winning the MVP and having a fantastic season. Man led us to the best record in all of MLS."
Former Laker great Kareen Abdul-Jabbar: "It was amazing. Your 34 goals and assists led the league. You were outstanding from the beginning to the end. From one MVP to another: "Do well." Kobe Bryant: "Just a phenomenal year, a testament to your hard work, passion and love for the game." Jerry West: "MVP. What more can you say: most valuable player, most valuable person."
Former USC quarterback Matt Leinart: "I got a chance to see you play live. You are phenomenal. What a great year you guys had and way to do the City of L.A. proud. Congrats." L.A. Rams quarterback Jared Goff: "Congratulations. You're amazing." Rams punter Johnny Hekker: "Undeniably the MVP of MLS. You earned it. Golazo, after golazo, after golazo. Congratulations. Well deserved."
Landon Donovan: "Carlos, congratulations on an incredible year. It was a privilege and an honor to watch you represent Los Angeles." LAFC President Tom Penn: "On Day One you declared you wanted to be MVP. You did it. You did it with style in historic fashion. Congratulations."
Actor Danny Trejo: "L.A. is super proud of everything you and your team have done. Keep up the good work. Yo te vendiga. God bless you, homes." Actor Mario Lopez: Felicidades, amigo, on winning the MVP of the league. You make all the Mexicanos proud and everyone in the City of L.A. proud."
LAFC owner and executive chairman Peter Guber: "Carlos, from the moment I met you, you were special. You are the MVP, most valuable person. That's really what you are. You are special from the heart."
Vela won the 2019 MLS Golden Boot award with record-breaking league-high of 34 goals in 31 games. His 49 goals and assists combined total, 34 goals and 15 assists, also set a new league record. Vela put an exclamation mark on his MVP season by scoring the two opening goals in LAFC's 5-3 win over the Galaxy in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Vela was the 23rd recipient of the MVP award in Major League Soccer's 24th season. Preki of the Kansas City Wizards is the only multiple winner of the award, earning the trophy in 1997 and 2003. Carlos Valderrama of the Tampa Bay Mutiny won the inaugural MVP in 1996. Josef Martinez won the award last season with Atlanta United FC.