Brent Latham: Carlos Vela must pay his dues before earning El Tri call

Carlos Vela says he wants to return to the Mexican national team, but is El Tri as interested in the Real Sociedad forward?
It’s funny to listen to Carlos Vela talk these days -- in more ways than one.

For one thing, Vela now seems to speak with a ridiculous Spanish accent. In other cases that would be a small thing. Certain people are more susceptible to picking up accents -- Americans often go to England and come back talking like Brits -- but Vela’s accent feels fake.

The 22-year-old has been in Spain on and off now for several years, it’s true. The Spanish culture and game have influenced him, for the better on the field, at least. And he certainly must eat well.

But one can’t help but wonder how a kid from Cancun ends up sounding just like a Spaniard after a few seasons in Spain, unless that’s what he’s going for.

In the case of Vela, you could see how the accent would be just a little too much for some. This is a kid who still needs to prove that understands what he owes to Mexico, that he wants to be Mexican, that he bleeds green the way his one-time El Tri teammates do.

Vela had been rightfully forgotten over this summer of triumph for the Mexican national team. He had a chance to be an Olympic star, just like the rest, but he slammed that door shut on himself for no particular reason.

Sure, many defended Vela, saying he needed to get his club career on track before thinking of El Tri, but I’ll go ahead and repeat what I said then: Passing up the Olympic chance was a terrible choice personally and professionally. For the player and his representatives, the career track argument was little more than a smokescreen.

Vela didn’t want to take the risk, perhaps of getting injured or maybe of showing poorly, and so he didn’t reap the golden rewards. His eventual transfer to Real Sociedad, which came well after the Olympic Games had ended, would have happened either way. Vela was free to play.

But for whatever reason he didn’t. Instead Raul Jimenez, of all people, played the auxiliary striker role just fine, thank you. The America man’s career has been catapulted forward thanks to Vela’s no-show.

And what’s this? Now Vela’s saying, in his most convincing Spanish accent, that he’d love to get back into El Tri? He and plenty of other players in Mexico who make themselves available when the team needs them.

Does El Tri need Vela? Not really. El Tri is bursting at the seams with attacking options, and can get on smoothly without the former U-17 star, as the Olympic team demonstrated aptly.

Jose Manuel 'Chepo' de la Torre’s best formation is probably a 4-4-1-1 with the reserved striker being a more creative type -- Giovani Dos Santos, Marco Fabian or Angel Reyna.

But to be fair, El Tri could undoubtedly use a La Liga-caliber striker under certain circumstances. De la Torre seems intent on making a 4-4-2 work, possibly to the team’s detriment, and El Tri is a little short on the type of forward that can drop a little deeper in support of a No. 9 like Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez or Oribe Peralta.

The addition of Vela -- re-addition that is -- makes sense, then, on several levels. And with a busy schedule approaching next year with the Confederations Cup, Gold Cup, and World Cup qualifying on tap, the time is probably coming for Vela to return to El Tri.

Perhaps the best solution would be to call Vela for the Gold Cup -- likely mostly a B-team affair. Let the Spanish impersonator pay his dues that way, making up for lost time and for turning down Mexico last summer.

If he accepts and gives his all in the United States next summer, everything can be forgotten and it can be back to business as usual for El Tri in terms of taking advantage of the entire talent pool -- even the part that for whatever reason sounds more like it’s from Spain.