Mexico: Why Carlos Vela's World Cup Absence Will Not Be a Factor for El Tri

Karla Villegas GamaFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2014

SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 17:  Carlos Vela of Real Sociedad de Futbol in action during the UEFA Champions League group stage match between Real Sociedad de Futbol and Shakhtar Donetsk held on September 17, 2013 at the Anoeta Stadium in San Sebastian, Spain. (Photo by Dani Pozo/EuroFootball/Getty Images)
EuroFootball/Getty Images

Case closed, Carlos Vela will not wear the green jersey next summer, and the question is: Will this affect El Tri in Brazil 2014? Not quite.

Vela shared a letter the same day that Miguel Herrera let the world know that the Mexican striker opted out of this summer’s World Cup.

The Real Sociedad forward was clear: "In this qualifying process I have not been 100% mentally to represent or to be part of a national team."

The last time Vela played for Mexico was in 2011, in a friendly against Venezuela. By that time, he was part of Premier League side West Brom, where he played eight times in a five-month span.

The "Vela saga" has been a topic of interest in Mexico since 2012, when he declined to join the U-23 side that represented the country in the Olympic Games.

Already playing for Real Sociedad, Vela was going through a fantastic time, which included 35 appearances, 12 goals and seven assists in his first season with the Spanish club.

Back then he told Hector Gonzalez Inarritu, national team director, that the reason why he didn't want to go was because he wanted to have time to settle down with his new side during the preseason.

It was a tough blow for Mexican football, but Luis Fernando Tena put up a first-class squad that won the gold medal in an exciting match against Neymar's Brazil.

The hero of the tournament was Oribe Peralta, a player who has never left his country and has played with Santos Laguna for seven seasons.

Less than six months later, El Tri was ready to participate in the Hexagonal, which gives three-and-a-half tickets for the 2014 World Cup.

Vela was again in the eye of the storm. He asked Jose Manuel de la Torre to leave him out of the 23-man list due to personal motives.

During the tournament, Mexico hit rock bottom, winning only one game at the once-feared Estadio Azteca and finishing the Hex with a 2-5-3 record. They ultimately secured a ticket for the two-legged playoff against New Zealand.

Javier Hernandez, Giovani dos Santos, Andres Guardado, Aldo de Nigris, Javier Aquino and every player working in the attacking zone was hardly criticized, while Vela’s name popped up on a regular basis.

But one player stood up and helped the fans and media to forget about Vela, but most importantly, he gave shape to the offensive line, and that was Peralta.

"El Cepillo" managed to score 11 goals from August to November, becoming Mexico’s top scorer of 2013, and was appointed CONCACAF’s Player of the Year.

Yes, if Vela would have been on the team, he would have probably put the ball away too and perhaps he would have been the hero, but he decided to stay in Spain.

Coach Herrera took over the team when it was buried in its worst football crisis since 1981. He capped nine players from Club America, his former squad, and some more from the best team of the Liga MX, Leon, and secured a World Cup ticket for El Tri.

Now he has less than five months to figure out which players will be atop and compromised to give their best on the pitch and put them together to achieve one simple goal: teamwork.

One player will not change the whole course of a team, especially when the squad has first-class and hardworking footballers who have proved to be ready to step up.

As it has happened in the past couple of years, having Vela on the team would have been an amazing addition, but he wouldn't have secured Mexico the World Cup.

Spanish sources cited in this article translated by the author unless otherwise noted.