Carlos Vela did what he needed to do at the 2018 FIFA World Cup to ensure he would come back to Los Angeles to be a factor for the LAFC.
Coming home to be a star for one of the most popular teams in Mexican soccer?
To Vela, that’s part of the game.
“It’s part of the process,” he said on the eve of Saturday night’s US Open Cup game against the San Jose Earthquakes at Home Depot Center. “I’m just glad to be here.”
The 28-year-old Vela is back with Los Angeles after joining the Chicago Fire in June for the first time since his 2012 transfer to Chivas USA.
“He’s one of the best players in the game, and to have him here and still be part of this group is great,” LAFC Coach Bob Bradley said. “That’s why the club wanted him back in the first place.”
After a successful debut season, the Timbers wanted to bring him back. After he rejoined LAFC in December, he’s four goals and three assists in 15 games.
“This is a good thing. It gives me a chance to really continue on with my soccer career,” Vela said. “And to be with this club that has an incredible bunch of fans.”
Vela has nine goals and 19 assists in 65 games for LAFC and 42 goals and 28 assists in 89 games for the Timbers and Chivas USA. He said he’s enjoying being back with his teammates in Los Angeles.
“In soccer, you can play anywhere, so I’m happy to be here,” he said. “It’s exciting for me.”
He’s part of one of the top teams in Mexico.
“To be able to play for one of the biggest clubs in Mexico is really an honor,” he said. “And in this league, LAFC is a really good team and I think it’s a great challenge for us.”
It’s a good time to be a midfielder.
Kevin Doyle will be playing in MLS after leaving English Premier League club Derby County. The LAFC winger is considering retiring and attending graduate school.
“It’s something I’m really considering,” he said. “As of this minute, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Vela’s work is done. He’s ahead of schedule to meet the goals he set out for himself last summer.
“It’s been a good journey so far,” he said. “I just want to keep it going.”
Times staff writer Joel Rubin contributed to this report.