El Tri head coach Tata Martino has confirmed as much before the Qatar 2022-bound nation’s friendly Saturday vs. Peru at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
Martino, an MLS Cup 2018-winning manager with Atlanta United, said Vela has deferred from the program for several years, a stance the 33-year-old has maintained when asked about his standing with Mexico.
As for Chicharito, Martino said he prefers other strikers over the 34-year-old when addressing the program’s all-time leading scorer. Currently, Europe-based Hector Jimenez (Wolves) and Santiago Gimenez (Feyenoord) as well as Liga MX-based Henry Martin (Club America) and Rogelio Funes Mori (Monterrey) seem ahead on the pecking order.
The pronouncement comes two months before Mexico compete in Group C at the World Cup alongside Argentina, Poland and Saudi Arabia. To qualify for November’s tournament, they finished second in the Concacaf Octagonal ahead of the United States and behind Canada, scoring just 17 goals across 14 qualifying games.
Chicharito had the chance to play in four straight World Cups for Mexico and has a program-leading 52 goals across 109 caps, last featuring in a September 2019 friendly vs. the United States. He is LA’s leading scorer during the 2022 MLS season with 15 goals and two assists, having joined the Galaxy in 2020 as a Designated Player.
Vela has played in two World Cups for Mexico, last featuring for the team in July 2018 during a Round of 16 loss vs. Brazil, scoring 19 goals across 72 appearances. He leads LAFC in combined goals and assists this year (22), the Black & Gold’s captain and original Designated player re-signing in the summer through 2023.