Carlos Vela has Bob Bradley’s full support in regards to the decision to miss the upcoming MLS is Back Tournament.
LAFC announced on Monday that Vela will sit out the looming competition in Orlando, Florida, in order to remain in Los Angeles to be with his pregnant wife. The loss of Vela for the tournament will be a notable one for LAFC. After all, the Mexican winger has scored 58 goals and delivered 28 assists in 61 regular season games in MLS to date.
Bradley, however, has no issue with the reigning MLS MVP staying back to tend to family matters.
“I just want to reinforce that I stand 100 percent behind Carlos,” said Bradley on a videoconference on Monday prior to LAFC’s departure for Central Florida. “It’s important for him to be with his family right now. We’ve talked about it within the team. The rest of the coaching staff, all his teammates feel exactly the same way.
“We always have a mentality that we do what’s best for players, we do what’s best for families, and that doesn’t change how we approach stepping on the field and trying to be at our best every time we get the chance. That’s the way we’re all thinking about it.”
With Vela out, LAFC is going to need other players to fill the large void if the team is to continue its incredible run of form in league play. LAFC won last year’s Supporters’ Shield and has regularly come out victorious in MLS play since the club’s introduction to the league in 2018.
Vela has been a chief protagonist in much of that, and replacing him is no easy task. Still, Bradley is confident his side has what it takes to keep on rolling without much issue.
“Certainly we’re lucky that we’ve got a lot of talented attackers,” said Bradley. “I think that everybody saw last year that in the league Carlos was a cut above everyone, and so when you take him away that does challenge others to step up. But we’ve seen that happen before, even on days when Carlos has been on the field.
“He’d be the first one to tell you that some days he’s not at his best, and then you see the need for other players to raise their levels. That’s how a team works, and we have had experiences over the last two years where that’s been the case.”
Bradley went on to touch on two players in particular that may be able to pick up the slack: Uruguayan attackers Diego Rossi and Brian Rodriguez.
“In this last period of time, month, Diego has really been in good form, really working hard, a very good mentality,” said Bradley. “Brian is a talented guy, and he is someone that we’re just trying to help. I think sometimes he puts pressure on himself and we’re just trying to take that pressure away and get him to play as free as he can and show everybody what he can do.”
Set to open the tournament against the Houston Dynamo on July 13, Bradley and LAFC will soon get some more answers as to they can cope without their captain and star attacker.
LAFC does not plan to change things much without Vela, though. Yes, the personnel is going to be slightly different, but the style and approach will remain largely the same.
“It’s not like we’ll go there and have a new way of playing,” said Bradley. “We’ll try to go and take the ideas that you’ve seen over the last few years. In training, we’ve reestablished things quickly. I’ve been pleased with the tempo.”