Vela closing in on MLS scoring record after latest stunner

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Josef Martinez may not sit atop the pile for long, with the Mexican forward closing in on his single-season scoring mark

From 1996 until 2018 no player scored more goals in a single MLS season than the 27 Roy Lassiter posted.

Two players, Chris Wondolowski in 2012 and Bradley Wright-Phillips in 2014, tied his record mark, but the record held for 22 years. 

It was Josef Martinez who shattered that record just last year, rolling up 31 goals and strolling to the scoring title, setting a new mark that, at the time, looked like a strong enough total to stand for a nice long while. 

Thanks to Carlos Vela, that record is now very much in jeopardy. 

In his first MLS season Vela was a standout performer. His 14 goals and 13 assists more than justified the hype that surrounded him after he signed as the first designated player, and the face of the franchise, for Los Angeles FC

Little did anybody know that his second season in the league would be, arguably, the best ever turned in by an MLS player. 

On Wednesday, Vela added two more goals to his already impressive tally in a 4-0 thrashing of the San Jose Earthquakes. He now sits on 26, just five shy of the record Martinez set last season, with eight matches left to catch the Venezuelan. 

His first against the Earthquakes was from the penalty spot, but it was his second that showed exactly why Vela has become the most dangerous player in the league. 

A dummy in midfield was followed by a sliding San Jose defender being left in his wake. Centre-back Florian Jungwirth became his next victim, left flatfooted by a quick chop of the ball, before goalkeeper Daniel Vega was rounded. Rather than rushing the shot Vela then slowed, allowed yet another defender to slide past, and calmly slotted home from the doorstep. 

MLS just can't deal with Vela at the moment. 

His LAFC side has already clinched a place in the MLS playoffs and he's already set a record for the most combined goals and assists by a player in a single MLS season, with that mark topping 40 with Wednesday's outburst. 

"I think you always have the hope or motivation to get things like the record. You get it because you work every day to be able to have rewards like this," Vela told reporters last week. "Obviously, it doesn’t always happen and it’s not easy to do it, but it’s what has kept me at a good level.

"I want to be the best in this league, try to show it every weekend and there are still nine games, so I have to close well to enjoy and be able to say it was a great year."

Vela isn't doing it alone either. Bob Bradley's LAFC side has turned into a juggernaut, with Wednesday's beating of San Jose just the latest in a long line of impressive results, making it even harder to bet against Vela, or the club, to make more history this season. 

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