July 6 (Reuters) - Los Angeles FC’s (LAFC) forward Carlos Vela said on Monday he will not travel with the squad that is headed to the MLS is Back tournament in Orlando, Florida, with the Mexican choosing to stay at home with his family.
LAFC are scheduled to leave for Florida on a charter flight later on Monday but Vela said he will stay back to be with his pregnant wife.
"I would like nothing more than to be with my team mates in Orlando. I always want to give everything I have to my club, our fans and supporters and the city of L.A," Vela said in a statement here on the club's website.
“However, it is in the best interest of the health of my family to stay home and be with my wife during what is a risky pregnancy. I will miss being with my team mates and coaches, but I will be cheering and supporting LAFC from a distance.”
Vela is one of MLS’ highest-paid players and the 31-year-old also won the Most Valuable Player award last year, scoring a career-high 38 goals in a season.
“LAFC fully supports and respects the difficult decision Carlos and his family have made to not participate in the MLS is Back tournament,” General Manager John Thorrington said.
“We appreciate the support from the league, and we look forward to having Carlos re-join the club when we return from Orlando and begin moving forward with the rest of the season.”
The 54-match MLS is Back tournament, which kicks off on July 8, will have all 26 teams congregating at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida.
Teams began arriving in Orlando last week for the relaunch of the league’s 25th season, which was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The United States leads the world with over 2.9 million COVID-19 cases while Florida confirmed a record high 11,000 new cases in a single day — more than any European country reported in a day at the height of the crisis there.
On Saturday, the MLS said two players had tested positive for COVID-19 after they tested 1,191 players, coaches, referees, club staff, league staff and other individuals. A total of 14 positives were reported since testing began on June 28. (Reporting by Rohith Nair and Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)