Tom Marshall: Door slams shut on Vela, but nobody wins in drawn out saga

With the Real Sociedad star turning down yet another call-up, both player and country lose out, and Vela's future return becomes more and more unlikely.
Victor Manuel Vucetich has attempted to draw a line under any further talk of Carlos Vela returning to the Mexican national team, implying that the 24-year-old has refused a call-up when El Tri is most in need.

“It’s a case that is practically resolved because at the end of the day (Vela) didn’t meet one of our expectations that I was looking for,” Vucetich told Fox Deportes on Sunday.

But Vucetich wasn’t done there. Reading between the lines, it now looks like Vela will not be welcomed as long as the former Monterrey coach is in charge.

“We’ve clearly stated from that start that we need committed people more than ever in the obligation (to qualify for the World Cup),” added Vucetich

In other words, in Mexico’s moment of need, Carlos Vela has shirked the responsibility to add his significant talent to the pile in search of reaching Brazil 2014.

The reasons why the Real Sociedad man has refused the call range from him having problems with people in the Mexican soccer federation (FMF), to ongoing feuds with other players, to his reported view that he has been unfairly treated by the national team on past appearances.

What hasn’t changed in all the shenanigans over whether he would be included – fueled by neither Vela nor the federation really explaining – is that both the individual and team are losing out.

From Vela’s point of view, it is difficult to comprehend how the change of coach from Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre to Vucetich wasn’t the perfect opportunity to return with Mexico struggling and a wave of public support that would’ve forgiven him for waiting so long.

Now it has become a free-for-all in criticizing the player, with Chivas owner Jorge Vergara, who has regularly taken pot-shots at Vela for the way he left Guadalajara, leading the charge.

“He’s not who he thinks he is,” said Vergara in widely published quotes. “He’s not Messi.”

Vergara added that Vela wants to be Spanish and shouldn’t be considered for future call-ups.

Playing a World Cup is the top dream of many soccer players (as well as fans) and Vela must’ve known that closing the door this time around makes it so much harder for Vucetich to potentially call him up closer to the World Cup, assuming Mexico makes it. To backtrack in such a way would need some significant justification for Vucetich to save face in public after the latest snub. And if the federation is to be believed about Vela simply not thinking the time is right, then it doesn’t look good for the player.

What Mexico loses is in no doubt. Vela has always had talent in buckets, as Arsene Wenger recognized after the U-17 World Cup in 2005, after which he brought Vela to Arsenal. But in the last two seasons since being at Real Sociedad he has improved immeasurably.

The numbers speak for themselves, with Vela netting 12 times in 35 appearances in his first season and then scoring 14 in 35 last time out. But that doesn’t tell the full story of the Cancun native’s importance to how Sociedad plays and his role in lifting the Basques to a Champions League place last season.

The Mexico team at present is desperate for a player of his ilk with the imagination, even arrogance, to unlock defenses and do the unorthodox when required. The thought of lining up Javier Hernandez, Vela and Giovani Dos Santos remains almost a fantasy for Mexico fans. The feeling is that with those three on the field, the national team is a match for anyone going forward.

But for now and the foreseeable future, the destiny of El Tri will be written without Vela. Vucetich has been left with no choice but to move on.