Following the transfer of Giovani dos Santos to the LA Galaxy from Villarreal, it seems that another La Liga based Mexican intends on making the move to Major League Soccer. The rumors first surfaced in September, when Vela said that he had been the target of an unknown MLS club during the summer. Of all of the big clubs in MLS, there was one that is missing a big, international name: the New York Red Bulls.
While I don't think the Red Bulls were the team to make contact with Vela in the summer, I thought that they would at least be interested in him. Nope.
The two frontrunners to sign Vela are the Chicago Fire and the San Jose Earthquakes. It makes sense; the Fire were, to be frank, terrible this past season. The attacking duo of Accam and Igboananike was pretty lethal though, and adding Vela into that mix would only make things even more frightening. The San Jose Earthquakes could also use some striking power. They were unable to qualify for the playoffs, and it seems like Wondolowski is fading away. That World Cup 2014 miss probably prevents him from getting more than 4 hours of sleep every night, I guess.
Recently, news emerged of a THIRD player in the game to sign Vela. Apparently, the Colorado Rapids hold discovery rights, and this means that they have first dibs on the player. They're another poorly-performing team that could really use someone of Vela's ability. While it is nice for the smaller name teams to get the big name players, I really think that the Red Bulls should make a statement here and go for the Mexican.
While the Red Bulls didn't lack attacking power throughout the whole season, they certainly lacked it when it counted. During the Eastern Conference Final, the Red Bulls' attack was easily subdued.
Bradley Wright-Phillips was isolated without a problem, nor was a solution evident. Mike Grella was shut down, not just by Harrison Afful athleticism, but also his composure to deal with Grella's tight control and dribbling. Lloyd Sam also had trouble breaking down Waylon Francis. Of course, the poor performance in the Eastern Conference Final isn't the only reason.
Lloyd Sam is going to be 32 come September. While that isn't incredibly old, for a winger like Sam that relies a lot on his speed, he's going to be less effective as he ages. This past summer, the Red Bulls did bring in what I believe to be Mike Grella's successor. Hopefully, Vela can be Sam's successor.
So what does Vela bring to the table? Well, he's capable of playing either up front or on the right. As a left footed player, he's more of a Lionel Messi or Gareth Bale type right winger rather than a more traditional winger like Sam. He's fast, he's good with the ball at his feet, he's a fantastic finisher, and he's definitely capable of setting up his teammates as well.
His 2013/14 season was his most successful; in 37 matches, Vela scored 16 goals and assisted on 13. Vela played on the right 25 times that season, and he scored 12 times and assisted 11 while playing in that position. Putting up those numbers in one of the toughest leagues in the world is a testament to Vela's ability, and most of those goals coming from Vela playing as a right winger shows that he's most comfortable playing there. He would surely be a lethal addition to the Red Bulls attack, one that could maybe be the final piece in the puzzle as the Red Bulls try for the MLS Cup again.