LAFC forward and reigning MLS MVP Carlos Vela is leaning toward not participating in the MLS Is Back Tournament, but his decision, as of Tuesday night, is “not 100 percent certain,” according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
Vela, whose wife is pregnant, has long been unlikely to participate in the tournament. The league’s setup on the grounds of the Walt Disney World Resort prohibits family and friends from staying inside the bubble meant to protect teams amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In a tournament manual given to players prior to their arrival in Orlando, Florida, the league states: “Access to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex [“the complex”] and the Swan and Dolphin Hotels [“the Resort”] will be restricted to a limited number of MLS players and essential personnel [“Tournament Personnel”] and be tightly controlled.”
The absence of Vela, 31, would amount to a significant blow for LAFC. He has scored 57 goals in 72 league, playoff and cup appearances. However, the Black and Gold would still be among the tournament favorites. LAFC is the reigning holder of the Supporters’ Shield, emblematic of the best regular-season record, and returned the bulk of its squad this season.