Saying that "the team is more important than any player," Real Sociedad forward Carlos Vela offered an explanation Thursday as to why he opted not to play for Mexico in his country's crucial 2014 CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers.
"Mexico has good players and will go to the World Cup," Vela said during a media conference. "Nothing has happened regarding the topic of the selection. I explained my situation."
Mexico coach Victor Manuel Vucetich did not include Vela in the team recall last week, and would not elaborate when pursued by Mexico's media, except to say that his decision was a "closed case."
Vela, a 24-year-old striker, has not played for the national team since March 29, 2011, for a friendly against Venezuela. Vela also reportedly turned down a call-up from former Mexico coach Jose Manuel de la Torre last month.>
Mexico sits in a precarious fifth place in 2014 CONCACAF World Cup Hexagonal qualifying, must do something different and win Friday when it hosts Panama at Estadio Azteca.
The top three finishers in the CONCACAF Hex qualify outright for Brazil. The fourth-place finisher earns a chance to qualify via a playoff against New Zealand. Mexico has a shot at that fourth place if it can win Friday and again on Oct. 15 vs. Costa Rica.
El Tri has qualified for five straight World Cups, last missing out in 1990, when the team was banned from qualifying for using ineligible players in a junior tournament. The last time Mexico participated in qualifying and did not reach the World Cup was 1982.
Mexico’s current four-game qualifying winless streak matches its worst ever in World Cup qualifying.
Regarding Real’s slow La Liga start, Vela said that although he doesn’t like to be in this situation, he is hopeful "better times will come. Not all of us are doing things right and not all of us are doing all that the coach asks of us. Now we have to rest and try to improve. But I think the team still has the desire to win and I trust that once the dynamic changes we will once again be a fast and aggressive team."
Regarding Champions League and the team’s two straight losses, Vela said the next round will be complicated , but no one was giving up. Real takes on Manchester United next, meeting first on Oct. 23 at Old Trafford.
"It’s possible that we won’t get a shot at Champions, we haven’t been physically fit for some of the matches, but the team is going to fight until the end even though we would have liked to have started differently," he said.