As expected, LAFC star forward and reigning MLS MVP Carlos Vela won't take part in the MLS is Back tournament scheduled to begin on Wednesday amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, ESPN's Herculez Gomez and Jeff Carlisle hinted that the 31-year-old would opt out of the competition held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex because his wife is pregnant.
Vela confirmed his decision via a club statement on Monday:
“I would like nothing more than to be with my teammates in Orlando. I always want to give everything I have to my Club, our fans and supporters and the city of L.A. However, it is in the best interest of the health of my family to stay home and be with my wife during what is a risky pregnancy. I will miss being with my teammates and coaches, but I will be cheering and supporting LAFC from a distance. I can’t wait to be back on the field, playing for all of you and accomplishing great things with our Club. Vamos LAFC!”
LAFC Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager John Thorrington added:
“LAFC fully supports and respects the difficult decision Carlos and his family have made to not participate in the MLS Is Back Tournament. We have had numerous conversations with Carlos throughout this process and understand his unique situation and the importance of Carlos being home with his family at this time. We appreciate the support from the league, and we look forward to having Carlos re-join the Club when we return from Orlando and begin moving forward with the rest of the season.”
MLS halted play after two matchdays in March due to the uncontrolled virus outbreak. The league hopes clubs will be able to host games in-market later this year following the 26-team tournament.
Last week, FC Dallas confirmed a virus outbreak among club personnel. MLS nevertheless intends to begin the tournament on time with Dallas involved.
Vela won the 2019 Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player award after he set a single-season scoring record with 34 goals in 31 regular-season appearances.