LOS ANGELES (AP) — Carlos Vela’s scoring prowess has drawn the most attention this season, yet the Los Angeles FC forward tied a record on Sunday night that carries greater significance to him.
With the three-point night in LAFC’s 4-2 victory over the New York Red Bulls, Vela has tied Sebastian Giovinco for the most points in an MLS season. Giovinco had a combined 38 goals and assists in 2015 with Toronto. Vela as 10 games remaining in the regular season not only break that mark, but add a lot to it.
“I think for me more important that record than just goals,” said Vela, who had a goal and two assists. “I’m not always in the front waiting for the ball. I’m trying to help my teammates and make some plays for them.”
The game was tied at 2-all before Vela scored his MLS-leading 23rd goal on a penalty kick in the 61st minute. That goal was also the 37th in his two years in Los Angeles, giving him the most goals by a Mexican player in MLS history.
LAFC was awarded the penalty when Red Bulls’ defender Rece Buckmaster fouled Eduard Atuesta in the penalty area.
Both of Vela’s assists were on free kicks. Jordan Harvey opened the scoring with his first LAFC goal in the 23rd minute on a header. Eddie Segura gave LAFC a 4-2 advantage in the 72nd minute off a Vela feed into the box. It was Vela’s 15th assist of the season.
“He was our first signing and a big statement of the kind of football we wanted to play,” said LAFC coach Bob Bradley of Vela. “He’s been fantastic in all ways.”
Latif Blessing also scored in the 25th minute for LAFC, which improved to a league-best 17-3-4. They have 55 points, 10 more than East-leading Philadelphia.
The Red Bulls tied it in the first half on a Cristian Cásseres Jr. goal in the 42nd minute and a Tyler Miller own goal in stoppage time. New York (11-10-4) has lost two of its last three and remains fifth in the East with 37 points.
Red Bulls coach Chris Armas said he was pleased with how his team battled back, but fell short.
“We battled back but we have to be more disciplined on set pieces,” he said. “We learned a lot about ourselves.”