One such mark is the single-season goals record, which Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez holds after finding net 31 times in 2018. Vela has 22 goals through 21 games, and has 13 matches left to set a new standard.
So, is he going for it?
“I hope I can achieve it,” Vela told reporters Tuesday after training for the MLS All-Star Game presented by Target. “It’s not something I lose sleep over thinking about. I’m not just a central forward who only lives off scoring goals. Obviously they’re coming, and the team is helping me to be in those occasions so I can score goals.
“For me, it’s more important for my team to be champions or take them to the championship over breaking a record.”
Vela said he’s spoken with Martinez regarding that topic, adding the two often joke about breaking each other’s individual records. On top of his goals, the 30-year-old also has 13 assists this year, serving as a finisher and creator for Bob Bradley’s Supporters’ Shield-leading team.
“I get along well with him,” said Vela. “We’re always joking around regarding who’s breaking records. If it’s not him, then next year he’ll break another. But we’re very good.”
Martinez, who’s behind Vela in the Golden Boot race with 17 goals, said he has a huge appreciation for the LAFC and All-Star captain. The Venezuelan added that Vela is deserving of whatever accolades come his way.
“I have no doubt that a record is going to break,” Martinez said. “They’re just goals, it’s only a number. I stay with the person that he is. He has a good team. For me, he’s one of the league’s best and if he continues with that same form, I believe he will set a new record and I have no problem with that.”
As Martinez said, records are meant to be broken.
“He’s a player who’s very special, each week he shows it,” added Martinez. “Obviously, it will hurt a little bit having to start that record again, but he deserves it. He’s a really great person, who I get along with better as a person than a player, [so] that’s why I think he deserves it."