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Carlos Vela: At Home in the City of Angels

Mexican superstar Carlos Vela has found a new home, and he is more productive than ever. Vela signed for Los Angeles Football Club ahead of the club’s inaugural 2018 season, and he has been tearing up records in the MLS ever since.

A Talented Youngster

At 14, Carlos Vela left his childhood home in Cancún to join his brother in Guadalajara and to seek out a soccer career. In 2005, at just 16 years of age, Vela signed for Arsenal. But he could not adjust to life in rainy, gloomy England, and after just three campaigns, he joined Spanish club Real Sociedad.

In San Sebastián, Vela got his career back on track, making more than 200 appearances and scoring 73 goals for the Basque outfit. After six years, Vela made the controversial decision to join the MLS expansion side LAFC.

Criticism

Carlos Vela has been heavily criticized throughout his career. Decisions like publicly declining a spot on the Mexican team roster, in addition to occasionally misbehaving during his European spell in England and Spain, led the 30-year-old to be accused of lacking commitment and passion for the game.

While there is certainly an ounce of truth to those accusations, Vela himself has dispelled rumors that he doesn’t enjoy playing soccer.

His move to LAFC has also come under fire. A transfer to MLS is fairly unusual for players at the peak of their powers—the only player to do this before Vela was Sebastian Giovinco. But the Mexican has since gone on record to say that he very much enjoys life in Southern California and that he does not worry about the opinions of others.

The Messi of MLS

LAFC coach Bob Bradley supposedly told Vela that he wants him to be the “Messi of MLS” and Vela unquestionably took that to heart. The Mexican is currently the best player in Major League Soccer.

Earlier this year, he broke the MLS goalscoring record with 34 goals in 31 regular-season outings. This remarkable achievement was quickly followed by an MVP-type performance, putting an end to their crosstown rivals season, the LA Galaxy of Zlatan Ibrahimović.

LAFC had never defeated LA Galaxy until Thursday, thanks to two goals from him and three from his teammates.

Carlos Vela might supposedly lack the passion, but his talent has carved out a remarkable soccer career on his own terms.

Illustration by @jamieorrell

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