NEW YORK – Miami FC forward Jaime Chávez has owned the North American Soccer League fall season.
The veteran put an exclamation point on that statement Wednesday, scoring for a fifth successive game and netting a hat-trick in a draw against the Cosmos. The three-goal performance earned Chávez the league’s player of the week award.
A native of the Los Angeles area, Chávez scored in the 44th, 63rd, and 90th minutes in a wild, back-and-forth affair at Riccardo Silva Stadium. The hat-trick brought the 30-year-old forward’s goal total to eight in 2017. Seven of Chávez’s eight goals have come in the last five games.
The Cosmos pulled ahead early through forward Bledi Bardic. Chávez brought the score level just before halftime, volleying home a flicked header from Rhett Bernstein.
The 6-1 forward fired Miami into the lead in the 63rd minute, capitalizing on a giveaway by New York’s Javi Márquez to tally his second goal. After Cosmos forward Pablo Vranjicán evened the score at 2-2, Chávez completed his hat-trick just before the game went into stoppage time, getting on the end of a pass from Blake Smith and blasting a shot past Cosmos goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck.
While the Cosmos ended up stealing a point through a stoppage-time goal from Márquez, Chávez’s efforts helped league-leading Miami extend its unbeaten streak to six games and further distance itself from others in the table.
The exceptional form of the veteran forward won’t come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the NASL. Chávez has 29 league goals in 99 appearances since 2014. He has proved to be an invaluable asset for head coach Alessandro Nesta, who has had to deal with a few injuries to his star goalscorers from the spring season, Stéfano Pinho and Vincenzo Rennella.
Chávez, who tied for third in the NASL in goals, and will look to extend his scoring streak to six games when the club meets the San Francisco Deltas at Silva Stadium Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (ESPN3 in the U.S. and NASL.com in Canada).