In just a couple days, captain Carlos Vela will be leading his LAFC teammates in an attempt to achieve their first title in franchise history. Whatever the result, they’ve already left their mark this season, with this final being the first ever the club will take part in. The California squad was 1st overall in the Western Conference and will face the East’s 1st overall seed, the Philadelphia Union.
As we all know, Vela decided to call it quits with the Mexican National Team following his participation in the 2018 World Cup played in Russia. Fans everywhere have secretly (some not so secretly) hoped and wished that at some point, the 33-year old would reconsider his stance, as he is undoubtedly the most talented player in Mexico currently, and has been for the past few years.
A couple days ago, Vela himself spoke to Hérculez Gómez in a quick interview, and Gómez played a David Faitelson recording where the analyst had a question for him: “Carlos, I wanted to ask you something. Don’t you think that at one point, you haven’t thought about it, you’re going to regret not having played with the Mexican National Team more? Especially in what should be every soccer player’s dream, which is to play a World Cup? Won’t you regret that? Thank you.”
To which Vela responded: “No. You’re welcome.” And smiled. As he laughed, Hérculez gave him a chance to explain himself, to which Vela simply shook his head and added: “Don’t have to explain anything to anyone.” See for yourself.
Throughout his career, many have called Vela a conformist and say he lacks the hunger to win or succeed in sports. Well, that all depends on your perspective. In terms of succeeding as a pro, he’s more than succeeded. Let’s see. He played 12 years in Europe, participated in 2 World Cups, has proven he has insane levels of talent on the ball, has scored over 170 goals in his career, has 100 assists, has been begged by an entire nation many times to reconsider playing for the NT, and oh yeah, never has to worry about financials again in his life. Yeah, I’d consider that wildly successful.
In terms of success achievement-wise, that’s where he could leave something to be desired. He was never able to establish himself in one of the European bigs despite having the talent to, never led the Mexico NT to any important result, and frankly never seemed to care if he did so or not.
Now, I want Vela on the team as much as the next guy does, but one thing is for sure; you can’t knock the man for making a personal choice. If he’s not interested in playing another World Cup or on the Mexican NT for that matter, that’s absolutely his choice and his choice alone. He’s been extremely consistent through all of this. Since his last match with the NT (2018 WC Round of 16 loss to Brazil), every single time he’s been asked, he’s clearly said no. Never did he give false hope of any sort of return and one can only be grateful for his honesty, whether you agree with him or not.
He will be sorely missed in the upcoming WC, especially considering Mexico don’t have any effective replacements at the RW position. Even if ‘Tecatito’ miraculously found his way back from injury, he still is nowhere near Vela, not by a long shot. But Vela choosing to stay with / near his family during this time, away from a very toxic medium as the Mexico NT can be, is totally up to him. Unfortunately, Martino and company will have to solve this extremely complicated riddle without their Batman.