GLENDALE, Arizona -- Gerardo "Tata" Martino has guided Mexico through to the Gold Cup semifinal against Haiti with a squad lacking star names, but only one of those absent from the tournament won't be welcomed back into the fold: LAFC's Carlos Vela.
Martino was asked on the eve of the semifinal whether the group of experienced veterans not in national team camp this summer -- such as Javier Hernandez, Hector Herrera, Jesus "Tecatito" Corona and Miguel Layun -- could return in the future to bolster the squad.
"Like I've said, aside from the case of Carlos, who made a public statement, there is no other player that the doors are closed for," responded Martino.
Vela is on course to win the MLS MVP award this season -- he leads the league with 16 goals -- but wasn't included by Martino for the March friendlies and was then omitted for the Gold Cup squad, with the Argentine suggesting it was the player's decision.
"I spoke with Carlos Vela over the phone last week and he assured me that at this time his club and his family are his priority, that's why he stepped aside," said Martino in a news conference in May.
Vela later said it was time to step aside, without definitively stating his national team career was over.
"I've had my opportunities, I've played a lot of games with the national team and nothing extraordinary has happened with Carlos Vela playing," Vela told reporters in Los Angeles.
Martino did not accept he would be changing the rules and regulations for specific players within the squad so that they would be more likely to come to national team duty.
"No player is obligated to come to the national team and those that do should have to follow the rules that the coach lays down," said Martino. "There's no motive for a coach to have to negotiate with a player coming in. But sometimes there are different situations that stop them coming."
Martino's statements potentially left the door open for Porto winger Corona, who was slammed by the Argentine for not answering the call-up in March.