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Carlos Vela joins the FC crew to talk about leaving Europe to join MLS expansion team LAFC, the brewing rivalry with LA Galaxy and Mexico’s World Cup outlook.

Mexico international Carlos Vela says he wants to try and help new MLS franchise LAFC make history in the league.

After failing to break into the first-team at Arsenal having made the move to England in 2005, Vela made the transfer to Real Sociedad in 2011 where he scored over 50 goals in seven years.

The striker even scored in his final game against Sevilla before heading for a new challenge at LAFC, who were named as a new expansion team to Los Angeles in 2014 and will play in MLS in the 2018 season.

“I was playing for 12 years in Europe,” Vela told ESPN at MLS Media Day. “It’s a long time you know. When you are from Mexico you miss your family, you miss your friends. I was thinking about being more close to my home and then [LAFC] come in with a good project in a good city … good fans. And I say: ‘Why not!’

“It’s a good moment to come and try to make history with a new club and it’s exciting — it’s a new feeling.

“I feel like when I go to school for the first time. It’s like you don’t know nothing — you don’t know nobody. You have to make friends, you have to make [chemistry] to be a team. It’s hard work to do but I think we are making good decisions with the players — of course we have Bob Bradley who’s a great coach and he knows about the league.

“He has the key to make the great decisions to be as soon as possible a great team.

“Atlanta is a good project to see — that’s the way to work. We’re going to try to make a good team as soon as possible to be in the playoffs and why not? We have to dream big. We have to try to make the first season fight for the title. We have to start strong. The first day [we want to be] fighting and ready for everything.”

Vela will be up against fellow Mexico internationals the Dos Santos brothers (Giovani and Jonathan) when LAFC meet LA Galaxy in the Los Angeles derby on March 31.

Carlos Vela
Vela has hopes of playing at the World Cup this summer.

“When I signed for LAFC, they [the Dos Santos brothers] called me and said: ‘We can’t wait to play against you. We wanna kill you!'” he said. “It’s good — for the league, for the players, for the team it’s good because you want to be better than your neighbours. We want to be better than the Galaxy, we want to be the team of the city.

“The good thing is that we’re in the city. That’s a good point. The Galaxy are outside [the city]. We are there — so the people maybe can feel like: ‘This is a team’ you know?”

With the 2018 World Cup coming up this summer, Vela would miss a chunk of MLS’ season if he is selected for Mexico. But the striker is hoping it will mean he is fresher than he would be if he was still playing in Europe.

“Always it’s a difficult decision because some players are in Europe and don’t play,” he said. “I come here… I expect to play every minute. I think it’s a good thing to be ready for the World Cup, if I am there — I hope!

“When I was in Europe maybe you are tired for all year — playing, training, training, training. We [MLS players] are fresh. We can be at the World Cup in my best moment of the season. I think like that. I hope [Juan Carlos] Osorio thinks like me.

Mexico have not made it past the round-of-16 in the last six World Cups, but Vela insists he is hopeful that Mexico can turn in another good performance.

“I hope. I believe in my team. I think we have great players,” he said. “We have good [chemistry]. We know each other from a long time ago so I feel like this is THE World Cup. We want to fight, we want to try to celebrate a good tournament because Mexico wants to celebrate something. I hope Russia can be the place.”

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