Carlos Vela scored his league-leading 24th goal on a penalty kick in the 64th minute and visiting LAFC became the first MLS team to clinch the postseason berth with a 2-0 victory over Real Salt Lake on Saturday night.
Vela moved four ahead of Atlanta's Josef Martinez in the MLS scoring race when he lifted a high shot that hit the top of the net and went in as Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando moved to his left. Vela was awarded the shot after being taken down the box by Real Salt Lake defender Aaron Herrera and the goal gave him a combined 39 goals and assists this season, setting a league record.
– Major League Soccer standings
– Source: LAFC hasn't lowered Rossi asking price
– Moreno insists that MLS has to live with Zlatan's criticism
Adam Diomande scored LAFC's second goal, getting his eighth of the season in the 82nd minute when he swept a right-footed shot over Rimando.
LAFC (18-3-4, 58 points) outshot RSL 17-9, won its fourth straight and moved 13 points ahead of the Philadelphia Union in the race for the Supporter's Shield, awarded to the MLS team with the most points. LAFC also clinched its second playoff appearance since entering the league as an expansion team last season when FC Dallas played to a 3-3 draw as the Montreal Impact earlier Saturday.
RSL (12-10-4, 40 points) played its second game under interim coach Freddy Juarez, who replaced Mike Petke. Petke was suspended three games for misconduct against officials in a Leagues Cup match and when the ban ended, he was fired.
RSL saw a season-high six-game unbeaten streak stopped and fell into fourth place in the Western Conference with the Seattle Sounders, one point behind the LA Galaxy.
RSL nearly tied the game in the 70th minute but Albert Rusnak's left-footed shot from the center of the box sailed high.
Vela missed two chances to extend the lead as his shot from the outside of the box went wide in the 73rd minute and two minutes his right-footed shot was stopped by Rimando, who saved it in the top-right corner.
LAFC goaltender Tyler Miller made four saves and notched his eighth shutout of the season (18th of his MLS career, all with LAFC). He saved the shutout with consecutive stops on Joao Plata in the 80th minute and Sebastian Saucedo a minute later right before Diomande struck.
Rimando finished with four saves.