Carlos Vela may be the newest addition to Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles FC, but the Mexican international is still rooting for his native country’s clubs to prevail in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Three MLS clubs — the New York Red Bulls, Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC — currently hold aggregate leads over Liga MX opposition in the CCL quarterfinals, however, all three matches are far from over with a second leg left to be played.
The 29-year-old Vela believes that while the MLS sides have the upper hand for the time being that all three Liga MX opponents — Tigres, Club Tijuana and Chivas Guadalajara — are capable of overcoming deficits.
That especially goes for Tigres, who are the reigning Mexican champions. They trail Toronto by a 2-1 margin heading into their second leg tie south of the border.
“I don’t know [if I’m surprised],” Vela told reporters on Thursday. “Obviously, the teams in Mexico are strong, it’s a very competitive league and the [series] aren’t over. I think in Mexico, things will change.
“Above all, I think Tigres [can overturn the deficit], the current [Liga MX] champion and a team that has been in finals or winning for a number of years. It’s one of the strongest teams in the tournament and it’ll be hard-fought.”
The LA FC striker’s allegiance may stick with his native country and its club teams, but Vela says MLS has improved drastically and that Mexican teams cannot just walk over their opposition, which has been the case at times in the past.
Vela continued: “But I think [the results] show that the [MLS] isn’t as bad a league as people in Mexico think, that it is very physical, very competitive and you don’t play walking and that was shown [on Wednesday].
“I hope the Mexican teams win because I prefer teams from my country to win.”
Tigres, Tijuana and Chivas currently trail in their respective matches, Club America is well on its way into the semifinals after earning a convincing 4-0 win against Panama’s Tauro.Follow @MattReedFutbol