A familiar face has helped FC Cincinnati to their first-ever win over Nashville SC while extending their club-best unbeaten start to five matches (3W-0L-2D).
Brandon Vazquez, held off the scoresheet during Cincinnati's first four matches of the 2023 campaign, found the back of the net in the 48th minute for the eventual match-winner Saturday evening at GEODIS Park. The US men's national team striker had an emphatic celebration before striking his familiar "Superman" pose in front of the Nashville faithful.
"It was a big relief. I felt a weight off my shoulders," he told MLSSoccer.com after the 1-0 road win during Matchday 5. "It just feels so, so good to hit the back of the net and help my team be able to get three points on the road in a hard place. It's an unbelievable feeling."
WATCH: Brandon Vazquez wins it for FC Cincinnati!
The 24-year-old, who, ironically, was briefly acquired by Nashville in the 2019 Expansion Draft following two seasons with Atlanta United before being traded to Cincinnati for General Allocation Money (GAM), had a breakout season in 2022. That's when the Best XI presented by Continental Tire selection had 18 goals, putting him in a tie with teammate Brenner and three others for fourth-most in MLS.
Vazquez's early-season misfires, a stretch that he called "very, very frustrating" midweek, is now emphatically in the rearview mirror.
"That was important for him," Cincinnati head coach Pat Noonan said during his post-match press conference. "It certainly came at an important time for us in the game, but hopefully that is just the start of what I think Brandon himself, and a lot of us, expect in terms of finishing plays off."
Vazquez's massive 2022 campaign, coupled with Cincinnati's fifth-place finish in the Eastern Conference and first-ever Audi MLS Cup Playoff berth, means a much brighter spotlight on both him and the club, something of which he's acutely aware.
So far, so good for the Orange & Blue, who will look to extend their unbeaten run at Orlando City SC next Saturday during Matchday 6 (7:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass)
"I know the expectations are high and the expectations for myself are high. I know what I can bring to the table for this team and help Cincinnati win," Vazquez said. "This group is super connected. The chemistry's amazing and we're riding this big wave of confidence right now, so we're taking this into every game possible. The journey doesn't stop with this."