It would be hard to argue that Bob Bradley isn’t the most accomplished American soccer coach. He was the first American to coach a Premier League team, he coached the Egyptian national team and he led the USMNT to first place in its group at the 2010 World Cup.
But he should probably stop talking about this nonsense comparing Carlos Vela to Lionel Messi.
LAFC began the 2019 MLS season with a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Sporting KC on Sunday night. The match came on the heels of the LA club releasing its “We Are LAFC” documentary on ESPN+.
In it the series, Bradley tells his star player, Vela, he needs to play as well as Messi.
“I want you to be as good as Messi”
Bob Bradley to Charlie Candle (AKA Carlos Vela)We Are @LAFC on ESPN+ @MLS @espn pic.twitter.com/j0XRC5LCFi
— herculez gomez (@herculezg) February 25, 2019
Nothing against Vela, but he’s nowhere near Messi’s level.
A Mexico international, Vela moved overseas to Arsenal as a teenager but never became a regular under Arsene Wenger. He found a better home at Real Sociedad in LaLiga before returning to North America to join LAFC for its inaugural season in 2018.
The 30-year-old winger has had a decent career, with more than 100 goals to his name. But Messi? C’mon, Bob. Messi scores 50 goals per season and has won the Champions League and LaLiga.
Vela had a great first season in MLS with 14 goals and 11 assists. He had a good match Sunday in the win over Sporting KC, completing seven of eight dribbles.
Of course, he wasn’t Messi good, but that didn’t stop Bradley from doubling down on comparing Vela to Messi after the match.
“That did look like Messi, didn’t it?” Bradley said in the postgame news conference when asked about Vela’s dribbling, almost with a straight face. “So when I say I’m crazy for that, I’m not that crazy.
“Everybody gives me a hard time: How can you say this to Carlos. I’ve said that to two players in my career, there’s two guys I’ve shown Messi clips to and said, ‘look, this can be you.’ It’s Carlos and Mohamed Salah, and I think I’m right in both of my choices.
“So Carlos is sick of it, but he’s going to keep hearing it.”
Mo Salah had a remarkable 2017-18 season, one of the best in the history of the Premier League, so you can kind of understand Bradley comparing Salah to Messi. Salah has yet to prove he can do it as consistently as Messi, but the Egyptian has done it at the highest level.
Vela, however, has not.
To his credit, Vela seems a bit uncomfortable to the comparisons to Messi.
Carlos Vela on Bob Bradley comparing him to Lionel Messi: “I try to just play football.”Plus, his response to Bradley wanting to call the LAFC/LA Galaxy rivalry, ‘La Clasico.’ #LAFC #LAGalaxy pic.twitter.com/ZVzIJ9ryLx
— Delmy Barillas (@DelmyBarillas) March 4, 2019
It’s hard to take Bradley’s comparisons of Vela to Messi seriously, as anything more than a motivational ploy. But we’re not going to stop giggling every time he makes such comparisons.