El Tri Must Show Vela Door
By Alex Fairchild
If Jurgen Klinnsman called you, if Roy Hodgson called you, if a soccer coach from wherever you may be called you and asked if you would like to represent your country, you would say, "Yes," wouldn't you?
Not if you are 24 year old Carlos Vela. Not if you have a decade's more experience and are Rio Ferdinand.
Others have said no too, though Vela and Ferdinand represent this rare breed in a more recent setting. But, we'll be generous to @rioferdy5, because his fitness concerns may have validity, and focus on Vela.
Debuting in 2007 for his country after a stunning performance at the 2005 U-17 World Championships, Vela was on top of the world, in development at Arsenal and on loan in Spain. Two months later he would score for his country. He would feature for El Tri, as a regular, until 2011. After two caps that year, he stopped, probably due to a beef he had with the federation over a party he attended in 2010. Mexico banned him for six months, though it is now 2013.
After a successful loan spell last season, the Mexican left Arsenal for the club where he found form. Real Sociedad purchased the striker for £4 million. For them, he has scored 13 times in 28 games since his permanent arrival. Many deem him the best footballer from Mexico, yet he will not help his country, who have stuttered to five straight draws. Three of those matches have ended without a goal, and the men in black or green only managed to put a likewise amount away over the course of those fixtures. The team have struggled.
On Wednesday night at Candlestick Park, the team took on Peru, looking to end a streak of neutrality. They had the chance to do so, but came up short, missing an unjustly given spot kick moments from time. However, converting from 12 yards would have masked the team's problems, as finishing looked impossible again for Mexico. They lack vile and they lack Vela.
Sociedad's star man is all that and more. He has tremendous skill, but he can get dirty too. He is a creator and a poacher, a talisman and a goalscorer. However, he will not play for his country. It is the highest insult to turn down the highest honor. Rumor has it that Vela does not want to spend his time and energy playing in games which are not the World Cup finals. Maybe he has an ego with a mindset towards the ideal that he is too good for friendlies and qualifiers. Or, perhaps he is just fighting for his right to party.
Nevertheless, Vela should not be offered forgiveness no matter what his reasoning may be. It is time for Mexico to move on and find another striker to pair with Chicharito. While many would like to see coach 'Chepo' de la Torre plead with the forward to play in the coming games, it is not worth it. A call up for Vela would send the team, country, and footballing world the wrong message. With 11 players on one pitch, fighting for one cause, it is imperative for all to remember that soccer is team game. One man cannot defeat another 11 at the highest level alone.
Kicking Vela to the curb would allow the country to move on. Focusing on a talent that will not do the work for you cannot help you win matches. It was nights like last night that will help El Tri find their way in what will be a busy year, as 'Chepo' must find othes to fill the void.
The Mexicans will look to bounce back against Nigeria before heading to Brazil, where they will be faced with a challenging Confederations Cup group. Then, they will come back to North America for the CONCACAF Gold Cup just weeks later before getting tossed back into the hectic ring of World Cup Qualifying, known this side of the world as the Hexagonal. Brazil, Italy, the United States, and possibly World Champions Spain are left to play for a team bereft of goals, which seems shockingly daunting for a country with men who can call themselves Olympic gold medalists. That team was no joke either, as they thwarted a Brazil with Neymar, Oscar, Hulk & Co. in the final.
With that being said, maybe it is worth it to ask Vela back into the side. However, he has broken a code. He has insulted his country. In fact, he might as well have given them the finger. His country needed him yesterday. They needed him against Honduras, Jamaica, and the United States. However, he was not there. In fact, it is no guarantee that Mexico will qualify for Brazil 2014. Leaving six points behind, they must be thankful that no dominate team has yet emerged in their qualification group. Sitting just a point adrift of the United States, they are extraordinarily lucky, but good fortune will not bring you qualification, and especially not a trophy wanted by every country.
It looks like Vela does not want to put in the hard work, hence he should not be able to reap the rewards of his teammates, if they manage to get to Brazil.