Carlos Vela added another goal to his collection as the Golden Boot race is heating up. Meanwhile, Uriel Antuna made it two games in a row with a goal, scoring the winner in the Galaxy’s 2-1 win over the Montreal Impact. Here’s what we learned from Week 29 in Major League Soccer.
Vela is just three goals away from leveling Josef Martinez’s record
As ever, another game another goal for Carlos Vela. On Saturday, the 30-year-old Mexican notched his 29th goal of the season in a 1-1 draw versus Toronto FC, putting him just three goals away from leveling Josef Martinez’s record of 32 goals in a single season.
Vela’s goal came late in the game through a last-minute penalty, and in truth, he struggled quite a bit through the course of the game. Playing the false-nine role and starting alongside Brian Rodriguez and Diego Rossi for the first time this season, Vela failed to properly influence the match, especially during the first half. It was particularly telling how much LAFC struggled to create in the final third, and you get the feeling that’s where LAFC will miss Adama Diomande the most. Diomande is set to be out for the foreseeable future due to personal issues, and his ability to draw the attention of opposing defenders in long diagonal balls around the edge of the box is not something Carlos Vela has in his arsenal. In fact, in the second half Bob Bradley spoke about telling Vela to isolate himself more from the opposing center backs, sensing perhaps he wasn’t doing enough to be his usual threat in wider areas around the box.
That said, not every team is capable of doing what Toronto FC did to LAFC in the first half. When LAFC commit men forward they are still a ridiculously dangerous side, and Vela remains a huge part of that. It may be just a matter of chemistry and cohesiveness to get the LAFC scoring machine back on track.
The Golden Boot race will go to the end
Remaining on the topic of goals, if it wasn’t abundantly clear before, it is now — the MLS Golden Boot race looks like it is going to go all the way until the very end. With Josef Martinez appearing to have picked up a serious injury this weekend, everything seems to be pointing to Vela and Zlatan duking it out with three games remaining in the regular season.
Currently, Vela has a two goal advantage over the Swedish superstar, and on paper also seems to have the easier schedule. Nonetheless, the Galaxy will need to lean heavily on Zlatan in the coming weeks, especially considering two of their remaining three games are away from home where they have notoriously struggled this season.
Whatever happens, it’s been fun watching these two compete against one another. The only thing that would make things even more fun is if these two end up facing each other once again come playoff time. It could happen.
Antuna makes it goals in consecutive games
Zlatan isn’t the only Galaxy player peaking at the right time. Uriel Antuna scored his third goal in his last four games after notching the winner in the Galaxy’s 2-1 win over the Montreal Impact. Coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto has spoken in length about Antuna needing to take advantage of the spaces available to him, and while his goal this time around resulted from a couple of Impact mistakes, Antuna is definitely relishing his role right now.
One of the greatest characteristics an attacking player can have is recognizing they aren’t always going to be the focal point of the attack. Antuna has not only done that but has found other way to contribute to the team. GBS has to be delighted, and so does Gerardo “Tata” Martino.