The Mexican attacker has become a revelation since joining MLS outfit LAFC in 2018 and he is dominating the league. But things aren’t as rosy with El Tri.
This past week, Team Mexico coach Tata Martino released his preliminary roster for the upcoming Gold Cup tournament set to kick off in June. El Tri will face Martinique, Cuba and Canada in a relatively easy group stage. One noticeable absence is MLS and LAFC talisman Carlos Vela, a key player in Mexico’s 2018 World Cup campaign in Russia.
This turn of events was seized upon with some vigor by many fans of El Tri on Twitter and other social media who demanded to know why Mexico’s most in-form wide attacker was missing from the squad.
The first excuse to come out was that Vela, during his numerous private conversations with coach Martino, had insisted that his focus is on his family and his club. This suggests that LAFC is now his main priority and that his time with the national team is at an end.
Another reason Vela offered in a recent interview is his desire to give younger, more inexperienced players a chance rather than taking the position himself. Players such as Rodolfo Pizarro would get more playing time if Vela were not on the roster.
I believe it is a combination of both. Having done some research on Carlos Vela’s professional career, it is clear that he is very much a man who focuses on what makes him happy and comfortable, and he avoids the things that do do not.
Whether it is a sign of positive strength, or negative weakness, Vela is unabashedly focused on what he wants to do, and if he does not want to do it, chances are he won’t.
Giving space to younger, upcoming players so they may be able to bridge the looming generational change El Tri is an admirable gesture, and I think it could partly be true.
However it must be said that he is quite simply happy and comfortable in LA, and that is the place he wants to be. And perhaps he sees playing with the national team as something of an irritant.
It is clear that his absence impacts the national team, especially when you watch him at LAFC. He has 13 goals in 13 games with 5 assists and he looks set to have an exceptional season. It is easy to imagine just how well he could play in international games against teams such as Martinique, Cuba or even Canada.
For good or ill however, It looks as if Carlos Vela has made a monumental decision on his international career which sadly looks to be over. And while he is having a superb season with LAFC, many fans and pundits view playing for your national team to be an unrivaled privilege and for it to be thrown away so lightly will be difficult for some to understand or forgive.
Carlos Vela has always done things his own way, for his own reasons and it is up to the rest of us to come to terms with it and move on.