"He's close": FC Cincinnati striker Brandon Vazquez nearing USMNT roster

The US men’s national team-centric buzz around FC Cincinnati striker Brandon Vazquez has caught manager Gregg Berhalter’s eye, it turns out.

While Berhalter didn’t name the early MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi contender to his 27-man roster for June’s Nations League games and friendlies, he’s not far off.

“He's close,” Berhalter said of Vazquez. “If he continues to score goals at [this] rate and his team continues to win, I'm sure there will be an opportunity for him in the future. I don't know what that means in terms of timing, but he's a guy we've been impressed with his play.”

Vazquez has six goals and three assists in 11 games for a surging Cincy side that’s won a club-record four straight games. It’s not a one-off, either, as Vazquez contributed four goals and two assists across seven matches as the 2021 campaign wound down, a bright spot as the Orange & Blue secured a third-straight Wooden Spoon in the MLS table’s basement.

One particular play that caught Berhalter’s eye came in a 1-0 win at Minnesota United FC, when Vazquez’s goal in second-half stoppage time stunned the Allianz Field crowd.

“He had a double move where he's going to fake like he's going behind and then pulled up and then he got the ball, a little bit of a cutback, and he scored it,” Vazquez said. “Really high-level movement in the penalty box and that was great to see.”

The USMNT’s No. 9 situation is wide open, with FC Dallas’s Jesus Ferreira emerging as a leading option. He’s in the June camp alongside former US youth national team standout Haji Wright, who's coming off a stellar season at Antalyaspor in the Turkish Süper Lig.

The likes of Josh Sargent (Norwich City) and Jordan Pefok (Young Boys) missed out through injury, while Ricardo Pepi (Augsburg) is being given a rest period and Daryl Dike (West Brom) is continuing a rehab process of his own.

Vazquez’s next chance to earn a USMNT call-in comes in September, with those overseas friendlies their last matches before competing in the Qatar 2022 World Cup during November and December.

A former Atlanta United forward, Vazquez boasts a lengthy US youth national team resumé. He played at the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup alongside USMNT mainstays like Tyler Adams, Christian Pulisic and Luca de la Torre.