LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — LAFC is expected to leave for Florida on Monday to begin preparing for its first match of the MLS Is Back tournament next week against the Houston Dynamo. According to a new report, however, the Black and Gold will be doing so without its most prolific attacking player, forward Carlos Vela.
A report from the Los Angeles Times citing a source within the club, states that the 31-year-old Vela will not make the trip to Florida. Instead, he will remain behind with his wife, who is pregnant, and the couple’s 3-year-old son Romeo.
Rumors that Vela would opt out of the tournament have been circulating for the last few weeks as preparations for Florida began. While the club has declined comment, it would appear that Vela is opting out as allowed by the league for “health or family reasons.”
The loss of Vela, who was the team’s leading scorer (34 goals) and assist generator (15 assists) last season, will certainly have an impact on the team. Entering the tournament, LAFC is the odds on favorite to win the Cup. But, Vela’s absence isn’t a death knell by any means as MLSSoccer.com’s Tom Bogert pointed out last week.
Bob Bradley’s side has a lot of depth, particularly in the attack, and now Uruguayan wingers Diego Rossi and Brian Rodriguez can both play their natural positions with a true center forward like Adama Diamonde in between them. The attack should be able to cope with the loss of Vela for the tournament. We’ll see exactly how they adjust next Monday, July 13 when the team faces Houston Dynamo at 5 pm PST.