In exactly one week from today, Los Angeles Football Club will take the pitch for their first match in Orlando. However, they will be doing it without their belle of the ball.
Carlos Vela announced today that he will not be joining the team in Orlando for the MLSisBack tournament. The 31-year-old cited his pregnant wife and 3-year-old child as his reason opting out of the tournament.
Carlos Vela will opt to remain at home with his pregnant wife, Saioa, and the couple’s 3-year-old son, Romeo. https://t.co/oKcuet7X3C
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) July 6, 2020
This is no doubt a blow for the LA side. LAFC’s rankings for the tournament have teetered on the lower end of the Top Five due to Vela’s pending decision. With his absence confirmed, the team will be without a striker who went off for 34 goals last season.
Vela has paved his own way in the league over the course of two-plus seasons. Since joining the league in 2017, he has scored 50 goals––the most of a Mexican-born MLS player in that time frame. His prowess was recognized last year as he was awarded the Landon Donovan MVP award in a landslide.
With his accomplishments listed above, it is not hard to see why Vela’s absence is a hit not just for LAFC, but for the league’s viewership as well. However, the Black and Gold are not without depth. Even after the time away from the pitch, Diego Rossi impressed the coaching staff during training sessions.
“Our performance staff … did an excellent job. Most guys came back, I think, in good shape. But I think Diego is still the one who set the bar the highest. He looked like he didn’t miss a beat, and he’s been really good in training in this last stretch.”
– H.C. Bob Bradley
Additionally, the team anticipates the debut of Bradley Wright-Phillips, the newly acquired striker from the New York Red Bulls. Wright-Phillips’ 2019 campaign was cut short after dealing with injuries. Head coach Bob Bradley will proceed with caution as to when to bring in his striker but is optimistic he will get some time on the pitch in 2020.
An LAFC side without Carlos Vela is not as potent as it could be. However, their offensive front is still poised to threaten the league for the title of the MLSisBack Cup. The Black and Gold open the Group F bracket on Monday, July 13th against the Houston Dynamo at 5:00 PM PST.