When you’re one of the top players in any league around the world, it goes without saying that there is going to be some kind of target on your back. Sometimes that’s because other players want what you’ve got, and in other instances, they just want to be the ones that took you down off of your pedestal. If you’re good enough to perform at the highest level, though, you need to be big enough to rise above that kind of scrutiny.
Questions need to be answered
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Carlos Vela was once again the hero for LAFC as they picked up yet another positive result this past weekend. They are far and away the best team in the Western Conference right now, and to be honest, probably the best team in the entire Major League Soccer structure. Ever since the start of the season Vela has played an absolutely huge role in that, which is kind of hard for anyone to deny at this stage. Throughout the course of his career he has always been viewed as a ‘good’ forward, but only now does he truly seem to be getting the kind of respect and admiration he deserves. Some may still feel like he’s a little bit overrated, but let’s face it, the numbers don’t lie.
As reported by MLS Soccer, however, it’s also kind of impossible to ignore the many, many fouls that have been thrown in his direction as of late. The MLS has always had a bit of a reputation for being a physical league, which may be as an indirect result of what the other major sports leagues in the country are like. Even with that being the case, it feels like Vela has been particularly singled out more so than most.
Perhaps this is just a ‘boy who cried wolf’ type of scenario, but either way, this is a part of the game that Vela needs to take into his stride – especially as we get deeper and deeper into the regular season, and eventually, the play-offs. If he thinks this scrutiny is bad now then we can only imagine what he’s going to think when it gets to crunch time, because that’s when he is really going to be tested.
Can he deal with it?
“We’re not naive. We understand that teams are going to have a hard way to play against us, are going to try to make it hard,” Bradley said. “[But] when’s the last time you saw [Lionel] Messi get mauled the way Carlos got mauled tonight? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game where Messi got mauled like that.”
Those are the words of Bob Bradley after Vela was fouled eight times in their most recent game. Interestingly enough when you look at the stats it becomes clear to see that quite a few players have actually been fouled more than Vela, so perhaps this is going to be a contained incident. Then again, maybe not.