As Major League Soccer prepares for its return to the pitch in a summer tournament in Orlando, Florida, LAFC received news on Monday that it will leave the league without one of its biggest stars.
The league’s leading goal-scorer last year, forward Carlos Vela of Los Angeles FC, revealed that he would not enter the Orlando “bubble” and would instead opt out of the season, choosing to stay at home with his family.
Vela, the father of two young children and whose wife is expecting another child in the coming months, informed his team that he was uncomfortable with the idea of being separated from his family and his pregnant wife for such a long stretch of time.
The former Arsenal and Real Sociedad player, who scored 36 goals for LAFC last season and won the league’s Most Valuable Player Award, will leave his team with a huge hole in its attack, hurting its chances to win the tournament.
LAFC general manager John Thorrington was completely supportive of Vela’s decision, however, stating, “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.”
Fans will instead have to wait for next season to see Vela take the pitch again.