In the first week of the season, Carlos Vela made a claim. It was one that was laughed at by some, and applauded by others.
“I’m working to be the MVP of the league,” he said. “If I want to do that, I have to show every game how good I am.”
As it turns out, Vela was more accurate than anyone could’ve possibly anticipated. As reported by MLS Soccer and LA Times, Carlos has officially been named as the Landon Donovan Most Valuable Player for the 2019 season.
With 34 goals in 31 regular season appearances, it should come as no surprise for fans to learn that Vela was always going to be the frontrunner in this race. He’s on his way towards becoming an all time legend of Major League Soccer, and rightly so.
Bob Bradley was another man who made it perfectly clear to Vela that the sky was the limit for what he could achieve in the United States.
“My point to Carlos was just, when you come to MLS, you’ve got to set the bar that high,” Bradley said. “I’ve heard him say that when he was in La Liga and it’s Cristiano [Ronaldo] and Messi and other guys, it’s hard for him to think ‘I want to be the best guy in the league.’ But when he got here, I wanted him to think, ‘Look, now’s your chance.’ ”
Vela has his eyes set on something much bigger next season, too, as he attempts to help guide his side towards MLS Cup glory after LAFC were knocked out at the Western Conference Finals stage by Seattle Sounders.
“Nobody expected this end for our season, but we know in the playoffs it’s one game, 90 minutes,” Vela said. “If they make better plays than you, then you’re out. In the end, we have to be proud of what we’ve done all year and learn.
“[But] we have to change some things and get stronger to come back next year and be better. It’s the only way to be a good club.”
The following roll of honor showcases the kind of talent that Vela will be joining in the MVP ranks.
- 2019: Carlos Vela – Los Angeles Football Club
- 2018: Josef Martinez – Atlanta United FC
- 2017: Diego Valeri – Portland Timbers
- 2016: David Villa – New York City FC
- 2015: Sebastian Giovinco – Toronto FC
- 2014: Robbie Keane – LA Galaxy
- 2013: Mike Magee – Chicago Fire
- 2012: Chris Wondolowski – San Jose Earthquakes
- 2011: Dwayne De Rosario – D.C. United
- 2010: David Ferreira – FC Dallas
- 2009: Landon Donovan – LA Galaxy
- 2008: Guillermo Barros Schelotto – Columbus Crew
- 2007: Luciano Emilio – D.C. United
- 2006: Christian Gomez – D.C. United
- 2005: Taylor Twellman – New England Revolution
- 2004: Amado Guevara – MetroStars
- 2003: Preki – Kansas City Wizards
- 2002: Carlos Ruiz – LA Galaxy
- 2001: Alex Pineda Chacon – Miami Fusion
- 2000: Tony Meola – Kansas City Wizards
- 1999: Jason Kreis – Dallas Burn
- 1998: Marco Etcheverry – D.C. United
- 1997: Preki – Kansas City Wizards
- 1996: Carlos Valderrama – Tampa Bay Mutiny
Seattle and Toronto may be battling it out for the right to be called this season’s champions, but in many ways, the campaign belongs to Carlos Vela for what he was able to achieve.