LAFC striker and captain Carlos Vela announced that he will not be participating in the MLS is Back tournament. The 2019 MLS MVP has opted to remain at home with his family.
The club departed Los Angeles for Orlando on Monday. They’ve been drawn into Group F of the tournament alongside LA Galaxy, Portland Timbers, and Houston Dynamo. LAFC is set to face Houston next Monday in their first group game of the tournament.
— LAFC Nation (@LAFCNationLAX) July 6, 2020
What does this mean for LAFC?
Not having their captain and best player strikes a major blow to LAFC. Vela is the team’s all-time leading scorer with 57 goals in a total of 71 appearances. Last season, Vela broke the MLS single-season goal record, scoring 34 goals.
Vela is the team’s guiding light, and without him, the odds are heavily stacked against LAFC. With Vela’s absence, it seems that it’s up to Diego Rossi to lead the attack. The 22-year-old forward is in his third year with LAFC. In 80 appearances, Rossi has scored a total of 37 goals, which makes him the club’s second all-time leading scorer. With Rossi’s experience, he’s more than perfectly capable of leading the team.
Forward Brian Rodríguez has an opportunity to make a name for himself. With Vela’s absence, he’s likely to see more playing time. Playing alongside Rossi may help him improve. More importantly, it’ll allow him to gain more experience.
Can LAFC still win the tournament?
LAFC was originally considered the odds-on favorite. However, this was assuming that Vela would participate in the tournament. Now that he’s not a part of it, LAFC’s chances truly drop significantly.
The club is still capable of playing effectively and winning games, but without Vela on the pitch, it would take a miracle for them reach the tournament final and put a strong effort in an attempt to win the title.
LAFC is unpredictable without their best player. At this point, anything can happen.