Carlos Vela – LAFC Move Does Not Translate to Major League Soccer Supremacy

Carlos Vela – LAFC Move Does Not Translate to Major League Soccer Supremacy

Manuel Veth –

Carlos Vela is going to become the first ever designated player of the Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC). The move was announced via the club’s Twitter account on Tuesday and Vela will become just the third player to sign for the club. Earlier this month LAFC also announced the signing of former US national team coach Bob Bradley making him the franchises first ever manager.

Carlos Vela will become the third active Mexican national team player to play in Los Angeles after LAFC’s city rivals have signed Jonathan dos Santos on July 27. Jonathan dos Santos joined his brother Giovani, which means that Los Angeles and Major League Soccer will be home to three of El Tri’s major stars come the 2018 MLS season.

Many Mexican supporters, who were hoping that the forward would return to Liga MX, however, also viewed Carlos Vela’s move to MLS on January 1, 2018, critically. The criticism on social media towards Vela meant that Javier Hernandez had step up and defend his El Tri teammate.

Carlos Vela – Chicharito Defends the Forward’s Decision to Join MLS

Asked about Vela heading to the United States Chicharito said: “If he keeps on showing the level he’s shown Osoria [the manager of the Mexican national team], or whoever watches him, will keep calling him up. If we make decisions in our lives from time to time and they make us Mexican proud, what else is there for us to do? We are after all pursuing our happiness.”

Chicharito also pointed out that the Dos Santos brothers made the decision to play in LA together and that Jonathan always had the dream to one day play in the same club with Giovani once again—the two went through Barcelona’s youth academy together. Chicharito concluded: “They are my teammates and I love and admire them. I am tired of looking at the negatives side of things whenever questions are made in Mexico. Whether we win, lose or draw. Whether some guys play abroad or whether they are pursuing happiness. Whether they try to grow their profile. There is always negativity.”

Carlos Vela will join the likes of Giovani dos Santos in Major League Soccer next season. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Carlos Vela will join the likes of Giovani dos Santos in Major League Soccer next season. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Chicharito, of course, has a point. His move to West Ham United was criticized—especially as it was believed that he could move to a club with Champions League ambitions. Carlos Vela in the meantime was linked to several clubs in the Bundesliga—Wolfsburg were interested—or could have returned to Liga MX where the likes of Chivas wanted to bring him in.

Perhaps that is where the animosity originates. The fact that those three Mexican national team stars are seeing their careers out in the United States rather than in Mexico.  Some in Mexico, therefore, must feel that Carlos Vela is betraying his home country by taking a multi-million deal in Major League Soccer rather than playing for the likes of Chivas in what is still the most competitive league in the Americas.

USMNT Fans Quickly Suggested a Power Shift

Fans of the United States national team supporters, who were quick to point out that MLS was attracting the big stars from Mexico did not help the issue. The animosity between fans of the United States Men’s National Team or #USMNT on Twitter—yes that is a thing in America—and Mexico means that the rivalry has transcended to the two national leagues of the two countries.

There is, of course, a bit of Schadenfreude here for Major League Soccer fans. For years their teams have been dismantled by Liga MX sides in the CONCACAF Champions League, and no Major League Soccer club has ever won the trophy. Even with the reform of the CONCACAF Champions League, this is unlikely to change.

The reason for that is simple. The structure of Major League Soccer may allow teams in the United States and Canada to sign some of the world’s brightest stars. It is unlikely that we would have seen the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Kaka, Andrea Pirlo or David Villa play in Mexico. But at the same time, Liga MX sides are not lopsided.

In fact, even with the salaries of the top stars in MLS squad Liga MX teams on average spent more money on their whole squad. The reality in Major League Soccer is that for every Schweinsteiger, who is on a multi-million salary, you will have ten MLS players, who make just enough money to be deemed, middle class.

 Liga MX Dominates MLS on and off the Field

This wage disparity is not the case in Liga MX. Here teams balance the salary among all the players in the squad. And while teams like Tigres manage to sign players on multi-million deals those players do not upset the wage balance the same way as it is the case in Major League Soccer.

In 2017 the salary cap stood at $3.845 million. Exceptions to the DP rule and various other opt outs mean that MLS clubs spent much more on their squads of course. Toronto FC ($22.48 million) and New York City FC ($17.93 million) are the top spenders. The arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger, who earns $5.4 million, at the Chicago Fire has meant that the club’s budget went up to $12.95 million. The example of Schweinsteiger, however, also highlights the wage disparity as he is responsible for almost have of the Chicago Fire’s squad budget.

Bastian Schweinsteiger has almost doubled Chicago's overall salary. (Photo by Jon Durr/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Bastian Schweinsteiger has nearly doubled Chicago’s overall salary. (Photo by Jon Durr/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Wage restrictions caused by the salary cap, however, have meant that increasingly American players have moved to Liga MX where there is no salary cap. Back in 2014 Liga MX players made $424,000 on average compared to the $200,000 MLS players make this season in Major League season.

It is not just on the field that Liga MX dominates MLS. But Mexican clubs also dominate MLS teams off the field financially. Hence, while Vela and other Mexicans signing for MLS is good news for the growth of soccer in the United States, it is for now not enough to break the dominance of Mexican league football over US league football.

Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada.  Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.


  • comment-avatar
    Serafim 3 years ago

    I follow and admire your work, is not the first time I read the claim that liga MX is the best league in the Americas and i’m failling in see why you think that way. The same argument that you did for the comparasion between MlS and liga MX, I can do with respect of the results of mexican clubs in the Libertadores, for decades mexican teams are failing to have consistent performances against south americas clubs, you could arggue that the best mexican teams that don’t play the tournament, but often, beacause of the changes in the squad from one season to another, is not the best south americas teams that are playing in the libertadores too (for example, Corinthians is dominant in the Brasileirao of this year, is by far the best brazilian team this year, and is not playing the libertadores). And, in many cases, the mexican side in the libertadores is represented by one of the most strongs mexican teams, one example of this was Tigres in 2015, they were champion of the apertura of that year, And the River Plate did not have so much trouble to defeat them in the final of the liberators (one of the only two, that mexicans teams have reached). In terms of investmeant, the brazilian league spend more and wages in comparision with Liga MX too( So why liga MX is better than Brasileirao? I don’t see any international results or other data tha justified this claim.

    • comment-avatar

      Liga MX sides were of course massively disadvantaged in the Copa Libertadores, which is one of the reasons they pulled out of that competition. In recent years Liga MX sides have heavily outspent their Brazilian counterparts and the infrastructure of Mexican football in comparison to the Brasileirao also means that clubs in Mexico can no longer hold on longer to their top players, but also bring in the best talent from South America. Brazil in the meantime has fallen behind even leagues like China due to the economic crisis in the country. Finally, the data you provided in the Daily Fail article was from 2014, which was the last year of the economic boom in Brazil. I make sure that we address some of this in our Liga MX Golazo Podcast next week.

      • comment-avatar
        Serafim 3 years ago

        You can’t make the assumption that money spended is equals to quality in football, off course there is a correlation, but you have to considered the pool of talented avalible. In brazil you recive a better quality for your money because the pool of talent is massive. The afirmation that brasileirao is laging behind china is a joke (seriously, watch a game of the chinese league and the brasileirao, there is no comparasion), in therms of money, off course, quality of football there is no comparasion, the chinese clubs invest more, but they have to pay high salaries for chinese players that have nery low quality, the brazilian player that return of the chinese league for play in the brasilerao many times point out the difficult to readapt to a higher level league (vagner love is a good example, he point this out in many interviews, other player too). In respect to liga MX, yes they have a lot of player of the south americas national teams, but this implies that this player would be succefull in brazil, I doubt. Several players from national teams from South America played in Brazil in recent years and no one misses them in Brazil.. We need to be carefull with this associations between the nationals economy and football, in fact the revenue of the brazilian clubs growed a lot since 2014 (
        In terms of revenue the Liga MX is way behind Brasilerao ( So, I continue failing in see why the brazilian league is inferior to liga MX, even in terms of bussiness, and in the football field I don’t see any reason to think otherwise too. Give me, one reason to belive in that. I undestand that the liga MX has been developing fast in the recent years but i think it lags behind brasileirao yet. In respect to the others latin america leagues, like agentina, i’ cant talk about beacuse i’ dont know they very well.

        • comment-avatar
          Serafim 3 years ago

          Make no mistake, the brazilian league is far from perfect and i think that in the near future is possible that liga MX surpass the brazilian league, but they don’t reached this point yet, watching the games of both leagues this is clear for me.

        • comment-avatar
          Serafim 3 years ago

          Just making myself clear here, off course some south america players of liga MX could be successful in Brazil, I was just point out that a high number of south america player that served in the nationals teams does not necessarily imply a higher quality in the football.

          • comment-avatar

            Hi Serafim,
            we keep an eye on both competitions as well and especially given the recent failings in the Copa Libertadores it is evident that Brazil is struggling. I think you have to be careful when including revenue when comparing the two leagues. Keep in mind the Serie A in Brazil has more revenue, because clubs are selling players abroad. Liga MX sides in the meantime are often owned by big companies in Mexico and therefore are not forced to sell all their best players to Europe. Also keep in mind that in terms of infrastructure and attendance Liga MX is far better situated, which makes it more sustainable. Overall though this is a very good discussion point and we will discuss it in detail on the Golazo Podcast next week.

      • comment-avatar
        Serafim 3 years ago

        Indeed is a good debate.

        Just adding more data to the discussion. The share of income from the sale of players in the budget has declined sharply in recent years, meanwhile occured an increase in the importance of TV rentals and mechandise. In terms of physical infrastructure new stadiums were built recently (not just used in the world cup, as an example of a modern stadium that was not used in the cup we have the Arena Gremio), there was a recent effort to improve mainly training centers, in big and medium clubs the players constantly give statements exalting the quality of the same, this was due to the good example of São Paulo that in the mid-2000s attracted players from europe that came to make medical treatment, but the minor clubs are getting behind in the infrastructure. I think Brazil has a lot of room to advance, especially in the promotion of its league abroad, almost nobody watches outside brazil, in part by the lack of foreign players that attract the interest of the public of other countries,. And I I think the money could be managed smarter to generate better sports results.
        Here follows the report of 2017 that Banco Itaú BBA made on the financial situation of the Brazilian soccer.

        Hope it helps the discussion (unfortunately only available in Portuguese).

        I await discussion in the podcast.

        Best wishes.

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