Vela: Anything less than title is failure for LAFC

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Reigning MLS MVP Carlos Vela believes not winning MLS Cup would constitute a failure for LAFC this season.

The Mexico star returns to the field Saturday when LAFC meets city rival LA Galaxy. And, after two years of plaudits without a title, he hopes 2020 is the year the team’s impressive start in MLS ends in a crown.

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“We have been close to winning for two years and we are always missing something,” said Vela in a video conference. “I think that this year anything that is not winning the title would be a failure for us.

“We are motivated and we believe that we are one of the best teams in the league, if not the best,” he said. “[We are one of the teams] that plays the best and we set the bar high.”

Vela missed the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando for personal reasons as his wife is pregnant with their second child in what he termed a “risky pregnancy” back in July. He will be playing his first game for LAFC since March 9, when the MLS regular season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 31-year-old remained in Los Angeles working on his fitness with a coach from the club and said he would have made the same decision again if similar circumstances arose.

“I did it because it was the best thing for my family and I would do the same a million times,” Vela said. “I don’t care what was said or not. I thank God we are all fine, healthy and are back. Everything else is not in my hands, controlling what people think. My team supported me, the league supported me, I supported my family and we were all happy, which is the important thing.”

Vela’s LAFC go up against an LA Galaxy side that failed to impress at the MLS is Back Tournament, picking up only one point from three games, and that will be without Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and with midfielder Jonathan dos Santos not expected to start.

Hernandez isn’t back training yet after a calf injury and Dos Santos said Thursday that “I’m not ready for 90 minutes, at most 30 or 45.”