The 2020 Major League Soccer season had just barely begun when the global coronavirus pandemic forced it to a halt in March. LAFC winger Carlos Vela, who was named the league’s 2019 MVP and won the Golden Boot, started off this season strongly, helping the team advance to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals and scoring the game winner in the season opener against Inter Miami FC.
With the league on hiatus, though, Vela has been working out at home in Los Angeles, spending quality time with his family, and sharpening his NBA 2K skills — the Mexican international is one of MLS’ premier talents, but he is a well-documented NBA fan as well. Vela spoke with Uproxx on behalf of BODYARMOR about how he’s been staying healthy at home, how MLS teams are slowly working their way toward a season restart, and what he learned from ESPN’s The Last Dance.
How are you and how have you been spending this extra time at home?
Really great. I think like everyone else I have been trying to handle quarantine the best way possible. I would say I have been active and spending quality time with my family. I have a son that’s 3 years old and a pregnant wife, so there’s positive things right now and that is what I’ve been focused on. I’ve just been enjoying the time I have with them and finding ways to stay in shape to be prepared for when it is time to train again.
Since the MLS season has been suspended, how have you been staying positive and fit at home?
Obviously I would like to be training with my teammates and playing this season, but that’s life. You must take it as a new challenge there is no excuse to not keep training. I will usually go out for a run or I will train with the club even though we are training individually, but we’re going back to our routine. But like I said, always looking for a way to stay active, stay in shape, and always be prepared. Even though the coronavirus is going on right now, there is always a solution. You can always train and prepare your mind and body for when it is time to get back out there.
Earlier this month, LAFC began running individual training sessions. I am sure they don’t feel quite normal, but how have the training sessions have been so far?
Obviously, it is not something we thought would happen within our teammates but to be able to go to the facilities and being able to go back to our routine is something positive. Training alone, not running with my teammates, working on drills like passes against the wall is not something every player enjoys but it is a step forward. It is also a step closer to being able to play the game. It gives me pure joy to train and being able to prepare myself for the game. Like I said, take things positively and just enjoy it.
I know you are also a big basketball fan. Did you watch any of The Last Dance on ESPN and if so, what did you think about it?
Of course, I never missed an episode. They were sacred moments. Obviously, I always admired Michael Jordan and after watching this the way he played to be the best and to win championships, it’s something that motivates me to try to win the league and be a part of history. I think it is a way for many athletes to look at themselves in a mirror and just see all the dedication and hard work he put into every game and practice is something to admire. I hope every athlete can — not like him, because it is impossible — leave a mark and make history.
Now that you had some more free time, have you been playing a lot more NBA 2K and working on your skills?
I think I can beat any player and if you like I can demonstrate it to you.
Who is your favorite team to play with?
I love the Lakers because I am a big fan of LeBron, but in NBA 2K I prefer playing with the Brooklyn Nets.
As a professional athlete you have to be very conscious about what you eat and drink — can you tell us why you like BODYARMOR and how it helps you as an athlete?
I think a lot of people think that as an athlete all we need to do is work out and we are all set but that’s not reality. After we train, we must take care of our nutrition most importantly, our health because it is something that is important to maintain a healthy body. That is why BODYARMOR is the best because it is tasteful, but it also does not use artificial ingredients. I think that is the best way to keep a healthy body by using natural ingredients. That is what helps with my post workout. The way it tastes makes it easier to stay hydrated and enjoy a good drink.
Can you talk a little bit about the new BODYARMOR campaign, #OnlyYouCan?
I think this campaign is very important because it has been made for everyone. It does not matter where you come from, what is most important is the motivation, the attitude, and the dedication you put. That is something that grabs people’s attention which is something the campaign is about. The campaign is something we all want everyone to be a part of. So, if you are hardworking and dedicated you can achieve anything you put your mind to. I recommend for the fans to be a part of this and for everyone to enjoy what was created.