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MLS Week 30, Mexicans Abroad: What we learned

Houston Dynamo v Los Angeles FC Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images

It was an eventful week over at Major League Soccer, with Carlos Vela and LAFC lifting the Supporters’ Shield while the LA Galaxy clinched their place in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Here’s what we learned from Week 30 in Major League Soccer.

LAFC win Supporters’ Shield

As everybody expected, LAFC were crowned MLS Supporters’ Shield winners on Wednesday after a 3-1 win over the Houston Dynamo. The Black and Gold have been far and large the best side in Major League Soccer this season, and their win served as the perfect testament for everything they have been doing well since their 2018 introduction to the league.

For somebody like Carlos Vela this win was particularly special. This was not only his first club title as captain of a team but his first club title in his career. Vela was understandably jubilant after the match, and as the face of the franchise, this was undoubtedly a big deal to him. For more on what this win meant for LAFC and Vela, check out our three reactions from Wednesday’s game here.

Uriel Antuna, Jonathan dos Santos and the LA Galaxy are officially headed to the Playoffs

It wouldn’t be the same without the LA Galaxy. The five-time MLS Cup champs got a huge win away to Real Salt Lake on Wednesday to confirm their presence in the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs.

It hasn’t always been perfect for the Galaxy. In fact, in very much their fashion they went on to lose their next match 4-3 at home to the last-placed Vancouver Whitecaps. That said, you get the feeling that if there is a team that can make an unexpected run to the title, it is definitely this one. It’s not just that this team is historically Major League Soccer’s best, when it comes to big games they just seem like they are capable of adding an extra gear or two. The MLS Cup Playoffs are often about who wants it most, and not always is it the team that is the most technical or that played the best football during the regular season that wins it.

Of course, you cant’t expect to oscillate as wildly as the Galaxy have across the last few weeks and expect to win the title. Perhaps coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s biggest problem goes beyond the mental and more about getting things right tactically. Because while the Galaxy have one of the best squads in all of Major League Soccer, they find themselves more often than not overrelying on their star players to win games.

Speaking of said players, from a Mexican soccer perspective, the evolution of a player like Uriel Antuna, who has scored four goals in his last five games, has been fun to watch this season, and it’s clear that his move to MLS has had a positive effect on his player growth. As for Jonathan dos Santos, you can’t discount just how massive he has been for the Galaxy. To put things into perspective, it is arguable he has been the Galaxy’s most influential player after Zlatan. His numbers might not immediately pop out, but make no mistake, he is the heart of this team.

The Golden Boot race will be a nice storyline heading into the last game of the regular season

“I don’t even know what it looks like,” Zlatan said after the game when asked about the Golden Boot trophy. The reality is Carlos Vela is currently the leading top-scorer with 31 goals, and the prospect of Zlatan overtaking him in the last game of the regular season is not impossible. The Galaxy will be taking on an already eliminated Houston Dynamo, the team with the fourth worst defense in the Western Conference.

For Vela, however, winning the Golden Boot at home would be a fitting end to his regular season. Not only that, after scoring against Minnesota United over the weekend, Vela is just one goal away from breaking the single-season MLS goalscoring record. If he manages to accomplish that, we would enter “Did Vela have the best season of any player in Major League Soccer history” territory, which is not bad for a player many called a “quitter” when he initially announced his move to LAFC.