Brandon Vazquez causes "uphill battle" for FC Cincinnati in Champions Cup


Brandon Vazquez continued his long-standing habit of scoring goals at TQL Stadium on Thursday night. Unfortunately for FC Cincinnati, this time it was for new club CF Monterrey, 1-0 winners in their Concacaf Champions Cup Round of 16 opening leg.

Nearly two months after his transfer to the Liga MX Clausura leaders, Vazquez not only scored against his former team, but put them in an uncomfortable hole ahead of next week’s away decider at Estadio BBVA.

“It didn't matter who scored for them,” Cincy head coach Pat Noonan said post-match of the forward's 27th-minute strike that slipped through goalkeeper Roman Celentano's fingers and could eliminate them from the tournament.

“Good movement on the ball from Brandon, but we can keep that out, that’s pretty simple for me,” Noonan added, uninterested in entertaining the inevitable storyline emerging from the result. “The scoreline is the part that hurts after that performance.”

Vazquez, who practically apologized to the TQL Stadium fans for scoring, made the most of an early chance. The same can’t be said of his former Cincy teammates, who were far less clinical in front goal – most notably Aaron Boupendza. The Gabon international missed a pair of golden opportunities in the second half, as the Orange & Blue lost despite outshooting Monterrey, 12-7.

“It’s why we’re left frustrated because we didn’t take our chances well,” Noonan lamented. “I thought we did a good job of getting into the box and creating enough clear looks against a strong team.”

Come next Thursday’s return match in Mexico, Noonan conceded there’ll be no margin for error if Cincinnati hope to reach the quarterfinals and face the winner of the Inter Miami CF vs. Nashville SC series.

“I think we’re in a better position going forward in the second leg if we’re able to take our moments, but we didn’t tonight and now it’s a little bit of an uphill battle for the second leg,” Noonan said.

Still, there’s reason for optimism.

Cincy dominated arguably Concacaf’s toughest team throughout large stretches, newly-signed right back DeAndre Yedlin put in a strong 88-minute shift in his debut and a 1-0 deficit is far from insurmountable for the reigning Supporters’ Shield champions.

“We suffered this game and the advantage doesn’t determine anything,” Monterrey head coach Fernando Ortiz warned, while also singling out another standout performance from Vazquez.

“Brandon speaks for himself on the field of play,” Ortiz said of the 25-year-old, who has seven goals in 11 all-competition matches since joining Rayados in January.

“Brandon has goals, he has that functionality that I like, and he’s making his own history at this institution.”