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Vela, Ibrahimović and Martínez racing toward record-breaking Golden Boot finish - This Week in MLS

19 Sep 2019, 16:57 IST

Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Top Things to Know in MLS This Week:

Eyeing the Supporters’ Shield: LAFC has won the Western Conference, and the club could outright win the regular season for the No. 1 overall seed in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs with a home win over Toronto FC this week, and a little help from around the league.

Vela close to closing the record gap: LAFC’s Carlos Vela (28 goals) only needs three goals in his final four games to catch Josef Martinez’s all-time, single-season record (31).

In global scoring streak company: Josef Martinez (19 goals in 14 games) ranks among the world’s top three players in consecutive league games with goals – only one away from Tor Henning Hamre (21 goals in 15 games) and seven away from the leader, Lionel Messi (33 goals in 21 games).

Leagues Cup Finale: The inaugural Leagues Cup final kicks off between Tigres UANL and Cruz Azul this Wednesday in Las Vegas (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2 / UniMas / TUDN / TSN1 / TVA Sports). More Leagues Cup information is available here.

The “could-be” Coach of the Year frontrunners: From American-born to Liga MX and UEFA Champions League-bred, these five MLS coaches have either matched or surpassed their club’s 2018 records, with at least 13 wins and 10 or less losses, except Matías Almeyda who has more than tripled the Quakes’ previous victory total despite 12 losses.

Coach of the Year frontrunners
Coach of the Year frontrunners

Vela, Ibrahimović and Martínez racing toward record-breaking Golden Boot finishThe race for the MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi is heading toward a historic finish among three of the league’s biggest stars, as Carlos Vela, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Josef Martínez continue terrorizing defenses amid record-breaking seasons. All three players could capture the Golden Boot while also challenging the MLS single-season goalscoring record in the final weeks of the regular season.

Ibrahimović made a declaration at the beginning of the season that he would break every MLS record this season, including the goalscoring record. After breaking the LA Galaxy single-season goalscoring record following a hat trick on Sunday with his 26th goal of the season, Ibrahimović needs six goals over the club’s final four matches (1.5 goals per game) to break Martínez’s league record of 31 goals scored set last season.


Over his past six matches, the Swede has totaled 10 goals (1.67 goals per game). The Galaxy next host the Montreal Impact on Saturday at Dignity Health Sports Park (10:30 p.m. ET, TVA Sports / ESPN+). 

Standing in Ibrahimović’s way is intra-city rival Vela, who leads the league with 28 goals scored in 27 matches. Vela needs four goals over LAFC’s remaining four matches to break the mark (1 goal per game). The Mexican international has six goals in his past five matches played (1.2 goals per game), scoring in his return from injury on Saturday to become the second-leading goalscorer in MLS single-season history. LAFC next hosts Toronto FC at Banc of California Stadium on Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET, TSN1 / TSN4 / ESPN+).

While Martínez’s record could fall this season, the Venezuelan could be the one to break it with 24 goals scored. Martínez has scored in 14 consecutive matches, the third-longest streak all-time across the globe. With 19 goals scored over his past 14 matches (1.36 goals per game), Martínez could break the record on his current pace, needing six goals over the club’s final five matches (1.2 goals per game). Atlanta United next host the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (3:30 p.m. ET, Univision / TUDN / Twitter).

MLS’s past two CCL finalists Toronto, Montreal square off in Canadian Championship

Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact represent MLS’s past two finalists in the Concacaf Champions League. Only one side will represent their region in the 2020 CCL as Leg 1 of the 2019 Canadian Championship is set this Wednesday at Montreal’s Stade Saputo (7:30 p.m. ET, Leg 2 is on Sept. 25 at TFC’s BMO Field.

The Canadian Championship victor automatically qualifies for next year’s Concacaf Champions League, a tournament where Canadians have carried the MLS torch deep into their respective tournaments. Toronto FC, owners of seven Canadian Championship crowns, advanced to the final of the 2019 CCL against Chivas de Guadalajara, while the Montreal Impact – three-time Canadian Championship winners – were runner-up to Club America in the 2015 CCL.

The Voyageurs Cup is in Toronto’s and Montreal’s minds over the next week and a half to become the toast of Canada, but the opportunity for next year’s Concacaf Champions League and potentially advancement to the FIFA Club World Cup are also in sight for both organizations.


Leagues Cup Final set for Vegas, with growing MLS vs. Liga MX field on horizon

The Leagues Cup Final kicks off this Wednesday, when Tigres UANL and Cruz Azul of Liga MX collide (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2 / UniMas, TUDN, TSN1, TVA Sports). The inaugural tournament finale takes place at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.

This is just the starting point for an already-expanding Leagues Cup competition, as the 2020 edition will feature eight MLS teams and eight Liga MX sides (16 clubs total), doubling the 2019 field size as the two leagues continue to grow their partnership (2020 Leagues Cup qualification).

MLS Regular Season: Week 29 Notes

Wednesday, Sept. 18

FC Cincinnati vs. Atlanta United, 7:30 p.m. ET

  • FC Cincinnati put an end to a four-game losing run, winning for the first time since July 13, defeating the Montréal Impact by the game’s only goal at Stade Saputo on Saturday evening. Allan Cruz netted the lone goal after just 28 seconds – it equaled the longest a team made a 1-0 lead stand up for a win in MLS history.
  • Atlanta United suffered a second consecutive 3-1 defeat, but still clinched their berth in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, falling to Columbus Crew SC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday evening.
  • Josef Martínez netted his 24th goal of the season for ATLUTD, extending his MLS goalscoring streak record to 14 consecutive league matches.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season, and the second time in their histories. Josef Martínez gave Atlanta United the lead after five minutes, but Roland Lamah netted the equalizer four minutes from time, leaving the teams in a 1-1 draw on March 10 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Portland Timbers vs. New York Red Bulls, 10:30 p.m. ET

  • The Timbers saw their two-game winning run come to an end, falling by the game’s only goal in a loss to D.C. United at Providence Park on Sunday afternoon.
  • The Red Bulls opened their two-game Pacific Northwest swing with a third consecutive loss, falling 4-2 to Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field. Kaku netted his fifth goal of the season, and Aaron Long scored his second.
  • The Red Bulls won the lone meeting between the teams last season, a 4-0 victory on March 10 at Red Bull Arena. It was the Red Bulls’ first home win in the series since 2012; the Timbers had come away with a win and a draw on their previous two trips to Harrison, N.J.
  • The Timbers won the last meeting between the teams at Providence Park, a 2-0 victory on Aug. 18, 2017, their only home win in four meetings in Portland.

Seattle Sounders FC vs. FC Dallas, 10:30 p.m. ET

  • Sounders FC won a second consecutive game scoring four goals, defeating the New York Red Bulls 4-2 at CenturyLink Field on Sunday afternoon. Nicolás Lodeiro scored a pair of goals, his fourth multiple-goal game in his MLS career.
  • FC Dallas saw their two-game winning run come to an end, falling 4-0 to the Chicago Fire at SeatGeek Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. FC Dallas benefited from a pair of own goals five minutes apart late in the first half, taking a 2-1 win on June 1 at Toyota Stadium.
  • FC Dallas have a seven-game home undefeated streak in league play vs. Sounders FC, with five wins, and a nine-game home undefeated streak in the series in all competitions. Sounders FC last won in Frisco, Texas, on April 12, 2014.
  • Sounders FC have won the past eight league meetings between the teams in Seattle, and nine of the 11 meetings there all-time, after their 2-1 win in the second meeting between the teams last year on Aug. 12. The only FCD win at CenturyLink Field came in 2011, a 1-0 victory on May 25.
  • Over the past four seasons, Sounders FC have outscored FC Dallas 14-1 in four regular season meetings at CenturyLink Field. The FCD goal there last year ended a 460-minute goalless drought over all competitions in Seattle, including the 2016 Western Conference Semifinals, which marked a third consecutive year the teams met in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Saturday, Sept. 21

Atlanta United vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 3:30 p.m. ET (Univision, TUDN, Twitter)

  • The Quakes continued their road swing with a second loss on the trot, falling 2-1 to New York City FC at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Chris Wondolowski scored his 14th goal of the season, now with 158 for his MLS league career.
  • Atlanta United have won both meetings all-time between the clubs, both high-scoring affairs, once at each locale. Last year, ATLUTD won 4-3 at Avaya Stadium on Sept. 19; they won the first meeting between the clubs 4-2 on July 4, 2017, at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Columbus Crew SC, 5 p.m. ET (TSN1)

  • Whitecaps FC put an end to their three-game losing run, defeating the Houston Dynamo 2-1 at BC Place on Saturday evening. Fredy Montero scored the late game-winner, his seventh goal of the season.
  • Crew SC extended their undefeated run to three games with a second victory in that time, defeating Atlanta United 3-1 on Saturday evening at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Gyasi Zardes netted his 12th goal of the season.
  • Whitecaps FC won the lone meeting between the teams a year ago, a 2-1 victory on March 31 at Mapfre Stadium, their fourth consecutive victory in Columbus. The win extended the ‘Caps undefeated streak in the series to seven games (with five victories in that span) – Crew SC have not defeated Whitecaps FC since the 2011 season, Vancouver’s first year in MLS.
  • Crew SC have come away with draws on each of their last two visits to Vancouver, including a 2-2 result in the last meeting at BC Place, Sept. 16, 2017. Crew SC have gained a result on three of their four visits to Vancouver.

FC Cincinnati vs. Chicago Fire, 7:30 p.m. ET

  • The Fire came away with a result for a second consecutive match, rolling to a 4-0 victory against FC Dallas at SeatGeek Stadium on Saturday afternoon. CJ Sapong scored a pair of goals, now with 12 for the season, his second season reaching double digits in goals.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season, and the second time in their histories. Allan Cruz netted the opener in the first minute and Fanendo Adi scored the game-winner with seven minutes to play, leading FC Cincinnati to a 2-1 win on July 13 at SeatGeek Stadium.

New England Revolution vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m. ET

  • The Revolution gained a result for a fifth time in six matches, reaching a 3-3 draw with Orlando City SC at Exploria Stadium on Saturday evening. Carles Gil collected a pair of assists, now with 14 this season, in fourth place in the MLS assist standings.
  • Real Salt Lake opened their road swing with a 3-1 defeat to Minnesota United FC at Allianz Field on Sunday evening. Albert Rusnák scored the RSL goal, his 10th of the season, equaling his total from a year ago.
  • Real won the lone meeting between the teams a year ago, a 4-1 victory on Oct. 18 at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL have won five of seven meetings all-time in Sandy, with two draws; the Revolution’s only wins in Utah came at Rice-Eccles Stadium, the last in 2007.
  • The Revolution have won the last two meetings at Gillette Stadium, both by 4-0 scorelines, the last coming May 13, 2017. RSL had won each of the three previous trips to Foxborough, Mass.

Houston Dynamo vs. Orlando City SC, 8:30 p.m. ET

  • The Dynamo weren’t able to build upon a first win in eight matches, dropping a 2-1 decision to Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place on Saturday evening. Mauro Manotas netted a goal for a second consecutive game, now with 13 for the season, sitting in eighth place in the MLS Golden Boot standings.
  • Orlando City SC gained a second draw in a row, coming back for a 3-3 result with the New England Revolution at Exploria Stadium on Saturday evening. Nani played a part in all three OCSC goals, scoring two, now with 12 for the season, with three in the past two matches.
  • The teams reached a goalless draw in their lone meeting a year ago, Sept. 22 in Orlando, the second 0-0 draw in two meetings there.
  • The Dynamo won the last meeting in Houston, a 4-0 win on May 6, 2017, at BBVA Stadium, after Orlando City SC took a 1-0 win in the first-ever meeting between the clubs, March 13, 2015.

Sporting Kansas City vs. Colorado Rapids, 8:30 p.m. ET

  • Sporting suffered a second loss on the trot, equaling their club record in a 7-2 loss to the LA Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park. Felipe Gutiérrez scored both Sporting goals, giving him 12 for the season.
  • The Rapids had their three-game winning run put to an end, falling 3-2 to Toronto FC at BMO Field on Sunday afternoon. Keegan Rosenberry scored his first goal of the season and also set up the second Colorado goal, the first time in his MLS career he had a goal and an assist in the same game.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Diego Rubio gave the Rapids the lead just after halftime, but Johnny Russell whipped home a free kick for the leveler in the 88th minute, leaving the teams in a 1-1 draw March 17 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
  • Sporting have won the past two meetings in KC, last a 1-0 victory there May 5, 2018, after a two-game Colorado winning streak at Children’s Mercy Park – the Rapids’ first two wins in Kansas City since the 2002 season.

LA Galaxy vs. Montreal Impact, 10:30 p.m. ET (TVA Sports)

  • The Galaxy scored seven goals or more in a game for the third time in club history, defeating Sporting Kansas City 7-2 at Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday evening, putting an end to a four-game winless run.
  • Zlatan Ibrahimović scored his third hat trick in MLS, now with 26 goals for the season, the eighth player in league history to score that many goals in a season. The 26 goals also set a Galaxy club record, surpassing the 24 scored by Carlos Ruiz in 2002.
  • The Galaxy won the lone meeting between the teams a year ago, a 1-0 victory on May 21 at Stade Saputo. It was their second consecutive win in the series, their first ever in Montréal.
  • The Impact have never scored a goal in Carson, Calif., in three visits. The Galaxy won 2-0 in the last meeting there on April 7, 2017, their second victory in three matches in Carson (with one draw).

Los Angeles Football Club vs. Toronto FC, 10:30 p.m. ET (TSN1/4)

  • LAFC reached a third draw in their last four matches, playing to a 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium on Saturday evening.
  • Carlos Vela scored his 28th goal of the season, now the second-most in a single season in MLS history, behind the 31 netted by Josef Martínez of Atlanta United a season ago.
  • TFC extended their league undefeated streak to seven games, getting a late winner for a 3-2 victory against the Colorado Rapids at BMO Field on Sunday afternoon. Jonathan Osorio netted the game-winner, after Alejandro Pozuelo scored his 11th goal of the season, his second in as many games.
  • The teams met once in LAFC’s inaugural season a year ago, LAFC taking a 4-2 win on Sept. 1 at BMO Field.

Sunday, Sept. 22

Portland Timbers vs. Minnesota United FC, 3:55 p.m. ET (ESPN, ESPN Deportes, TSN2)

  • MNUFC won a second game in their past three outings, defeating Real Salt Lake 3-1 at Allianz Field on Sunday evening. Darwin Quintero scored a pair of goals, now with 10 for the season, reaching double figures for a second season in MLS.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Ethan Finlay netted a penalty kick in stoppage time for the game’s only goal on Aug. 4 at Allianz Field.
  • The teams have met five times overall, and the home team has won each. The Timbers have won both meetings at Providence Park, last a 3-2 win on April 14, 2018; they defeated MNUFC 5-1 in Portland in club’s inaugural match in MLS, March 3, 2017. MNUFC won the first two matches in Minnesota by 3-2 scorelines.

FC Dallas vs. New York City FC, 6 p.m. ET (UniMás, TUDN, Twitter)

  • NYCFC extended their undefeated streak to seven games with a sixth victory in that time, defeating the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Alejandru Mitrita scored his ninth goal of the season, a second consecutive game with a goal, while Keaton Parks scored his first career MLS goal.
  • New York City FC won the lone meeting between the clubs a year ago, a 3-1 victory on April 29 at Yankee Stadium, their first victory in four matches in the series.
  • The teams had played to back-to-back draws before last year’s result, including a 1-1 draw at Toyota Stadium on May 14, 2017, in the last meeting there. FC Dallas won the first meeting ever between the clubs in 2015 in Frisco, Texas, a 2-1 win for their only triumph in the series.

New York Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia Union, 6:30 p.m. ET

  • The Union ran their undefeated streak to three games, gaining a 1-1 draw with the Los Angeles Football Club at Talen Energy Stadium on Saturday evening. Kacper Pryzbylko scored for a third consecutive game, now with 14 goals for the season, tied for fifth-most in MLS this season.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Ilsinho set up a goal from Jamiro Monteiro, then netted a brace himself, all three goals coming in a 12-minute blitz, as the Union claimed a 3-2 win on June 8 at Talen Energy Stadium.
  • The Red Bulls are undefeated in the past four meetings at Red Bull Arena, winning two in a row before goalless draws in the last two, the last on May 26, 2018. When the Union won 2-0 there on May 24, 2015, it was their first-ever win in Harrison, N.J.; the Red Bulls had gone 5-0-1 in their first six home games vs. Philadelphia.
  • The Union win in the first meeting ended a two-game Red Bulls winning streak at Talen Energy Stadium. It was the Union’s second win in the past eight meetings in Chester.

D.C. United vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 8 p.m. ET

  • D.C. United won for a second consecutive match, both on the road, defeating the Portland Timbers by the game’s only goal at Providence Park on Sunday afternoon.
  • Sounders FC have won the past six meetings between the teams, and are undefeated in the last eight league encounters in the series (7-0-1), after winning the lone meeting between the teams a year ago, a 2-1 victory on June 9 at CenturyLink Field. It was Sounders FC’s fifth consecutive home win in the series, their second in as many seasons.
  • The teams are meeting for the first time ever at Audi Field. Sounders FC had come away with victories on their last two visits to RFK Stadium, a 1-0 win in 2014 and a 2-0 win in 2016. United’s last home win in the series came in 2011 – their only victory in six home matches vs. Seattle. United were shut out in six consecutive meetings between the teams following that victory, a 585-minute goalless streak in the series ending in a historic 4-3 loss in Seattle in 2017.

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