El Tri’s Dreams Are Made of This

By: Alfonso Duro

Three years went by since Carlos Vela suited up last with el Tri before doing so again last week in Amsterdam against Holland. In February 2011, Vela returned to el Tri after coming out of a six-month suspension by the Mexican Federation, as he and Efraín Juárez got caught enjoying the nightlife in Monterrey a bit too much, but after that game against Venezuela things were obviously not the same for Vela anymore (or perhaps he decided to call the Federation’s bluff for having kept him away, who knows?).

Be it as it may, that game would be the last for the former Arsenal striker with el Tri until last week—45 months, an Olympic Gold medal and a World Cup later. And while it seemed the turmoil between player, management and fans would have to be worked out slowly and over time, his dreamlike performance against Holland may just be the sign needed for each party involved to understand that they all need to get it over with and move on.

#PERDONANOSVELA. Carlos Vela refused to return to the Mexican National Team for almost four years, and he found no shortage of excuses to do so. First, it seemed it was a personal beef with team manager (in 2011) “Chepo” de la Torre. Then, Vela alluded to grievances with the entire Mexican Federation board as the main reason he wanted nothing to do with el Tri. Finally last year, when the National Team manager role seemed as shaky as a priest at a strip club, Carlos Vela told newly appointed Miguel Herrera he simply felt “exhausted” and was not ready to join the team traveling to Brazil’s World Cup. Err, okay. If he was trying to call someone’s bluff, he won. We’ll give him that. But missing the chance to represent your country in a World Cup—in Brazil, no less!—when playing your best soccer, at 25 years of age, as a star in Europe, and with the whole country mobilized in a grassroots effort to convince you to come back, seems like taking it too far, Carlos.

LETTING BYGONES BE BYGONES. Miguel Herrera probably had to put his top-notch negotiation and conviction skills, or perhaps other methods he has been known for in his career, to work in order to get Carlos Vela to come back to el Tri, and while the striker hesitated a bit at the beginning, he finally budged to Herrera’s seduction techniques. Now, once Vela put on the green jersey again, things changed. He transformed into the superstar fans had been waiting for, and it took him but eight minutes to let out all the repressed pressure—or anger, or frustration, or whatever feelings he had been holding back for over three years—through an incredible strike from the top of the box to score the first goal against Holland. Talk about a fairy-tale comeback! Vela would go on to have one of his best performances with el Tri, and scored the third goal for Mexico, to help top the World Cup’s bronze-medal team, and the opponent who derailed them in Brazil, with a 2-3 victory.

If that book-worthy triumphant return is not enough to convince everyone, including the forward himself, that the Carlos Vela ordeal with el Tri is now simply water under the bridge, then we may as well forget about ever resolving it.

For now, things are looking good. Fingers crossed.

Alfonso Duro is a Spanish freelance writer. When he's not managing Google's agency in the United Arab Emirates (his current job), chances are he's watching and writing about soccer.