There it is. After 34 gameweeks of action, the regular season of Major League Soccer is over and now fans’ attention can turn to the play-offs.
It will come as no surprise to the followers of MLS that New York City FC and Los Angeles FC finished top of their respective conferences after dominating throughout the campaign.
LAFC completed their dominance of the Western Conference with a 3-1 win over Colorado Rapids thanks to a hat-trick from Carlos Vela – who has been in sensational form for Bob Bradley’s side
The Mexican went into the final weekend of MLS leading the race for the Golden Boot, sitting two ahead of LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was getting ready to face Houston Dynamo.
Despite the slight deficit, Ibrahimovic would have no doubt backed himself to win the Golden Boot, as he has made it clear he feels as though he is a level above his teammates and MLS opponents.
“MLS is not the level of Europe, to be honest,” he said in July. “Before, I played with players either on my level or close to it. Which makes the game connect easier.
“Here, I am like a Ferrari among Fiats. And it can happen that the Ferrari can become the Fiat, or the Fiat can become the Ferrari.”
But the legendary Swedish striker was no match for Vela, only grabbing one goal in a 4-2 defeat to finish the season three goals behind the LAFC man, who took home the Golden Boot and an MLS record.
Ending the season on 34 goals, Vela has scored more goals in a single MLS season than any other player in the competition’s history – beating Josef Martinez’s record of 31 set just last year.
Vela’s 34 strikes – six of which were game-winners – also came in just 31 games, with the Mexican averaging 1.12 goals per 90 minutes from 160 shots, more than any other player in MLS. The 30-year-old also put away a total of nine penalties across the regular campaign, the most in MLS.
His important goals across the season mean LAFC have been rewarded for winning the Western Conference with a bye to the play-off semi-finals and can watch the first round in anticipation, knowing a match against rivals LA Galaxy will be on the cards should they beat Minnesota United.
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