Carlos Vela (right): “I would like nothing more than to be with my teammates in Orlando.” (Photo courtesy of MLS)

By Michael Lewis Editor

One thing is certain about the MLS Is Back Tournament: Major League Soccer’s reigning MVP Carlos Vela won’t be the top player of the competition.

That’s because the Los Angeles Football Club and Mexican international striker has decided not to participate in the tournament, he announced on Monday.

Vela, 31, cited risks of COVID-19 that could affect his health and his family’s as well.

“I would like nothing more than to be with my teammates in Orlando,” Vela said in a statement. “I always want to give everything I have to my club, our fans and supporters and the city of L.A. However, it is in the best interest of the health of my family to stay home and be with my wife during what is a risky pregnancy. I will miss being with my teammates and coaches, but I will be cheering and supporting LAFC from a distance. I can’t wait to be back on the field, playing for all of you and accomplishing great things with our Club. Vamos LAFC!”

LAFC executive vice president of soccer operations and general manager John Thorrington had no problem with Vela sitting out the tournament.

“LAFC fully supports and respects the difficult decision Carlos and his family have made to not participate in the MLS Is Back Tournament,” he said in a statement. “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. We appreciate the support from the league, and we look forward to having Carlos re-join the Club when we return from Orlando and begin moving forward with the rest of the season.”

Last season Vela scorched the nets for a league-record 34 goals in 31 starts and matches, while adding 15 assists. In two games this season, he had scored twice in two contests.