Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela, the reigning Major League Soccer MVP, likely will skip the MLS is Back Tournament that is set to kick off next week, ESPN reported Wednesday.
However, his decision was “not 100 certain,” according to ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle.
Vela’s wife is pregnant with the couple’s second child, Vela announced in April. Should he participate in the event at the Walt Disney World resort near Orlando, he could be away from his family for more than a month.
No family members or friends will be allowed into MLS’ “bubble” in central Florida.
The absence of Vela could greatly impact LAFC’s chances in the MLS is Back Tournament. The club is a heavy favorite to win the title, sitting with +350 odds at DraftKings and +500 odds at FanDuel as of Wednesday.
Vela, a 31-year-old Mexico native, set the MLS record for goals in a single season with 34 last year. He also tied for third in the league with 15 assists while playing 31 games. Vela added two goals and an assist in two playoff games.
In his first season with LAFC, 2018, Vela recorded 14 goals and 13 assists in 28 games (26 starts).
LAFC had one win and one tie when the MLS season was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Vela had scored two goals.
Vela was under contract with Arsenal in the English Premier League from 2005-12 and had loan stays with multiple European clubs before moving full time to Real Sociedad in Spain’s La Liga from 2012-17.
In 72 career appearances for the Mexican national team, Vela has 19 goals in 72 games, but he said earlier this year that he will no longer play for his country.
Tournament set to begin
MLS is set to end its four-month pause with the tournament featuring all 26 teams. Beginning July 8, each team will play three group-stage matches that will count toward the regular-season standings. The playoffs (round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals and the Aug. 11 final) will not count toward the standings.
The tournament champion will receive a berth in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League, and players will be battling for pieces of a $1.1 million bonus prize pool.
LAFC are scheduled to open MLS is Back play in Group F against the Houston Dynamo on July 13. The other two teams in the group are the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Portland Timbers.