Offside with Taylor Twellman

Brandon Vazquez: MLS Cup with FC Cincinnati & then transfer overseas?

FC Cincinnati - Brandon Vazquez - smiling

Brandon Vazquez has played a starring role in FC Cincinnati’s first MLS trophy, helping guide the club to the 2023 Supporters’ Shield.

But the US men’s national team striker isn’t satisfied there.

He's got a dream ending in mind: raising MLS Cup presented by Audi on Dec. 9 followed by a European transfer this winter.

“I think that would be the perfect-case scenario for me,” Vazquez told Taylor Twellman on Offside with Taylor Twellman. “Bring Cincinnati a championship and then yeah, make the jump overseas. It [would] be amazing.”

Vazquez, who has 8g/4a this year after a breakout 18g/8a season in 2022, was strongly linked to Bundesliga side Borussia Mönchengladbach over the summer. He also boasts four goals in eight USMNT caps after previously being eligible to represent Mexico.

"This career is short and one of my goals has been to go to Europe," Vazquez elaborated. "And I think if I want to make the 2026 World Cup roster, I think I have to be overseas competing in the best leagues in the world.

" … I wanna push myself, I wanna keep growing as a player. And, obviously, Cincinnati wants to win a championship. I wanna help Cincinnati win a championship."

Eyes on the prize

Vazquez originally joined Cincy four seasons ago, witnessing their lows (three straight last-place finishes from 2019-21) and highs (being the best regular-season team in 2023). Given that historical perspective, the 25-year-old All-Star now notices a trophy mindset in the Cincinnati locker room.

“Everybody’s playing through something and we somehow find a way to win these games," said Vazquez. "They’re tough and gritty games that we just find a way to win. We know we have that in us. So, I think, and everybody thinks, that we definitely have it all in our locker room to win it all."

Vazquez knows what's required to win MLS Cup after being part of the sensational Atlanta United side that lifted the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy in 2018. Although he didn’t feature in that match, that provides valuable experience to reference.

“I know exactly what it takes, the work it takes, the amount of determination that every player in the locker room needs,” Vazquez said. “The full team needs to be bought into what Pat [Noonan] and the coaching staff want us to do in order to be champions. Everybody just keeps themselves accountable.”

Home cooking

Vazquez is also confident history won’t repeat itself in FC Cincinnati’s second consecutive postseason trip. Last year's breakthrough ended with a 1-0 defeat at the Philadelphia Union in the 2022 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

This time, thanks to Cincy's Supporters' Shield title, the road to MLS Cup runs through TQL Stadium.

"I don’t think Philly will do that to us again," Vazquez said. "I think we can beat Philly, especially right now, having that home-field advantage going into the playoffs. I think that’s huge.

“Last year, every playoff game was away for us. So, obviously looking forward to TQL during playoffs, I think it's gonna be bumping. I think with what we've learned throughout this season and how to stay in games and win games, even if it's not pretty, I think if we can take that in the playoffs, we can do just fine.”

Foundation laid

One thing is certain: With or without MLS Cup, the Orange & Blue have gained league-wide respect under Noonan and general manager Chris Albright, the ex-Philadelphia duo that began fully leaving their mark in 2022.

And they'll be tasked with maintaining that elite level in 2024 and beyond, confident their DP trio of Luciano Acosta, Aaron Boupendza and Obinna Nwobodo are all under contract.

"That'll be the biggest challenge, and something that we’ll certainly focus on for the remainder of '23 and then going into '24 because I've said it – it’s hard to achieve success in this league, and it's hard to do it consistently," Noonan said.

“So year in and year out, how are you positioning yourselves to maintain that success? And what is the mentality of the people around the club to understand that you've got to work harder? It doesn't become easier because of what we've been able to accomplish this year. So, that'll be a challenge for us."

Check out the full Offside with Taylor Twellman episode for more.