Los Angeles FC star Carlos Vela said he will not participate in the MLS is Back Tournament for family reasons.
The reigning league MVP confirmed Monday that he will opt out and remain home with his pregnant wife, Saioa, and the couple's 3-year-old son, Romeo.
"I would like nothing more than to be with my teammates in Orlando," Vela said in a team release. "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!"
The five-week tournament starts Wednesday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando. MLS gave players the opportunity to skip the event for health or family reasons.
Vela, 31, the LAFC captain and the team's highest-paid player at $6.3 million for 2019, is the highest-profile player to opt out.
"LAFC fully supports and respects the difficult decision Carlos and his family have made to not participate in the MLS is Back Tournament," LAFC general manager John Thorrington said in a team release. "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 rejoin the club when we return from Orlando and begin moving forward with the rest of the season."
Vela broke the MLS single-season scoring record with 34 goals in 31 games last season while leading LAFC to the Supporters' Shield. In his first season with LAFC in 2018, the Mexican international recorded 14 goals and 13 assists in 28 games (26 starts).
LAFC had one win and one tie when the MLS season was paused in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Vela had scored two goals.
LAFC are scheduled to open MLS is Back play in Group F against the Houston Dynamo on July 13. The other two teams in the group are the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Portland Timbers.
--Field Level Media