After Brandon Vazquez scored in his debut for the United States on January 20, he returned to FC Cincinnati’s training camp in Clearwater, Florida, after losing 2-1 to Serbia in Los Angeles. There were people there to thank.
Vazquez, 24, had a breakthrough season in Cincinnati last year. He scored 19 of his goals and had eight assists, further honing his game under the guidance of his Cincinnati assistant his coach, Dominic Kinnear. Attacking Team His players work both as a group and individually with his MLS coach Kinnear, a veteran who won back-to-back MLS Cups with the Houston Dynamo in 2006 and his 2007 .
When Vazquez rejoined his teammates in Cincinnati, he had something for Kinnear.
“We were sitting around the lunch table, and Brandon came up and handed Dom his varsity jersey and told him he was going to be a better player,” said FC Cincinnati head coach Pat Noonan. Thank you for your efforts,” he said. athletic“There is a special bond between those two.”
Vazquez dreamed of competing internationally, but for so many USMNT fans and critics, his debut came too late. Vazquez was left out of the United States’ 2022 World Cup roster by then-manager Greg Verhalter. That said, it wasn’t a surprise to see Vazquez’s name on the list for camp in January. His near his post move and the faint header that beat Serbian goalkeeper Djorce Petrovic looked like his trademark goal.
Against the bright clear water sun and cool sea breeze, Vazquez sat down. athletic At the FC Cincinnati hotel before the regular season started. He was energized by his first-time national team experience.
“It was incredible to score a goal on my debut against Serbia,” said Vázquez, adding that he felt he belonged at the international level. “It’s something I’ve dreamed of for a long time. To get there… I know I didn’t win and that part hurts, but for me personally to score in my debut was really, really satisfying. It was frustrating.”
. @Brvndonv be the 59th #USMNT Players who score in their debut match 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/TbP0ay82DS
— United States Men’s National Soccer Team (@USMNT) January 26, 2023
Of course the nerves were there. Vazquez was worried that his first senior national team opportunity came during his MLS preseason. Vazquez liked to start at centre-forward, even though World Cup-playing Jesús Ferreira was on the January roster. He finished without taking a shot and was sent off at half-time. Even before that match, his effectiveness as a centre-forward was highly controversial.
His ability to finish is questionable, as is his basic knowledge of ninth place. The two of them are very different players, both physically and in terms of player profiles.
At 5 feet 8 inches, Ferreira is a much more speed-based attacking player than Vasquez, who has finisher traits in the role of target striker at 6 feet 2 inches.
Ferreira is both a strong ball progresser and a vertical passer, as shown in the chart below. His link-up His play is also solid, further showing that Ferreira is better suited as a withdrawn forward or as his No. 10, rather than his traditional No. 9. meaning.
These traits, along with his defensive work rate, superiority in the air, and shot volume, make him a well-rounded center forward. Vazquez’s receiving in the opponent’s box is expected to be much greater than Ferreira’s.
The comparison between Vazquez and Haji Wright, another player on the World Cup roster, speaks for itself. Wright is more experienced than Vasquez, whom Burhalter rated.
More than that, the key data points that best define the ninth place in goalscoring (shoots and receptions inside the opponent’s box) skew in favor of Wright. But Vasquez does well on almost every other metric. It could bode well for Vazquez’s international future, depending on who the next US manager turns out to be. But while the team’s next head coach remains a question mark, Vazquez used his January opportunity to move up the striker’s tier charts.
“We weren’t in midseason form,” Vazquez said. “You have to go to your first national team camp and impress people. , I’m glad I did well for myself.”
Vasquez isn’t finished yet, but that speaks more to his development than to his talent. During his time at Atlanta United from 2017 to 2019, Vazquez was behind club legend Joseph Martinez and struggled to play important minutes. It’s the face of the trending Cincinnati franchise. Vazquez said his goal for 2023 is to more clinically improve the “details” of his position at center forward.
Kinnear isn’t the only tweak for Vazquez this season. It will be a group effort. But clearly, Kinnear has a past that only benefits Vasquez’s future.
Prior to joining Cincinnati’s Noonan, Kinnear spent three seasons as an assistant and interim manager at the Los Angeles Galaxy.he had his own relationship with him Infamous challenger Zlatan IbrahimovicVasquez said with a smile when he remembered it.
“Brandon, in his development — what is he, 24 years old? He’s only been a full-time pro for a year,” Kinnear says. “But he was a youth varsity player. He was in a situation where he didn’t have time to play. Chin, Kay Kamara, Zlatan.I’ve been lucky to work with people who have given me good information.I can learn from the people I’m coaching.I think it’s with Brandon. But he’s desperate to do well.He was the only guy on and off the field who really wanted video information and individual attention.”
Noonan’s side has played with two strikers since Jaap Stam’s replacement in December 2021. This was unusual for his MLS last season and plagued opposing centre-backs all over the league who were used to playing against one center his forward. A two-striker system brings Vazquez and Brenner together to 37 goals in 2022.
FC Cincinnati is undefeated with wins over Houston (2-1) and Seattle (1-0) at home and a 0-0 draw away to Orlando City. Vazquez was held to a clean sheet in the starting lineup, but his short goal deficit indicates that MLS opponents may be ready to face his two ninths.
It’s always difficult for a player to follow up a breakout season with an equally productive year. Vazquez had scoring chances in all three of Cincinnati’s games, but his technique proved to be the two clear cuts against Houston. He let him down with chances, hitting the crossbar from close range in the Orlando City game.
In the first half against Seattle, a slight hesitation in the penalty area also led to missed opportunities. Vazquez pressed effectively throughout the game, but the two giants of Seattle centre-backs Yaimer and Jackson Regen held him in for 90 minutes.
“If you can score 19 goals last season and miss a couple of chances every game, if you can eliminate as many of those chances as possible, that number is going to be a little bit higher.”
As you can see in the shot chart above, Vazquez’s work in 2022 was impressive. His expected goals-per-shot of 0.18 stood out, and that Vazquez was able to consistently get into dangerous areas and, as Noonan described it, “finish strong”. is shown. The conversation rate was also very good for a striker with a lot of shots.
Vazquez was one of 30 MLS players to have 60 or more shots in 2022. His expected goals per shot are slightly better than Chicharito Hernández (0.17), who like Vazquez scores inside the box.
That line of work was enough to catch the attention of Liga MX giants Chivas de Guadalajara. MLS Soccer’s Tom Bogart reported in December that Chivas had made a $7 million offer for Vazquez, which was considered by the Cincinnati front office. However, Vazquez provided additional insight into his own decision to stay in MLS.
“Growing up with Chivas jerseys in my closet, they came with a lot of interest and left a big number on the table for me. It was a compliment. It was exciting,” Vasquez said. “There aren’t many players in their careers who get big teams for them and put such numbers on the table. Me, my agent and my family have considered all the options. I also had conversations with Cincinnati, I spoke with Cincinnati and in the end they want what is best for me too. They will help you.”
All Vazquez wants to do is play in Europe. he made it clear. With the opportunity to represent Chivas, one of his one of North America’s biggest clubs, Vazquez reassessed its plans. But he said staying at FC Cincinnati gave him the best path to playing for a European club.
“Like I said before, I love this coaching staff,” Vazquez said. “I love working with them every day. I love this city, the fans, the stadium, the practice field. We thought it was definitely the best way to help them succeed as much as possible. One day going to sea bass might be the best route, but I don’t think that was the case at the moment.”
Vazquez was not named in the US roster released Wednesday for the team’s next CONCACAF Nations League game. Hudson chose to recruit two strikers, Ricardo Pepi and Daryl Dyke, for the games against Grenada and El Salvador.
Hudson gave his thoughts on Vazquez for his place on the US striker depth chart.
“He offers something different,” Hudson told reporters. I assured him that until the Gold Cup, he is a very important player for us and we will take our chances.I really like him as a player and as a character. So I felt it important to get in touch with him this week and share what he’s been up to.
Vazquez, who is Mexican-American, is still eligible to play for Mexico, but according to Hudson, Vazquez is the player America definitely wants. Mexico’s new manager, Diego Cocca, announced his first-ever roster on March 2nd. Vazquez was not on his 35-man roster for his March window at El Tri. Vazquez didn’t even consider Tata Martino, Mexico’s former manager. Martino was his coach at Atlanta United. Anyway, when Vazquez was asked if the door to Mexico was still open, he paused and thought about his answer.
“It’s still a tough question because if Mexico calls and the US doesn’t call for some reason, what do I do? Will I wait? I’ll take the opportunity. At the end of the day it’s just doing what’s best for your career.Your career is over in an instant.You need to do what’s best for your career and at the same time…it’s hard.Still evaluating I don’t know what will happen.”
Vazquez said he was honored to represent both Mexico and the United States, and was part of Mexico’s U-17 team before donning the red, white and blue uniform. The fact that his 2026 World Cup will be held in the region added another variable to his decision.
“It felt like a big deal to put on that Mexican jersey,” Vazquez said. “It’s definitely an honor to choose either. Let alone play in the World Cup in North America… I mean, it’s great to play at home. That’s the angle now. That’s my long-term goal.” ”
(Top photo: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)