FC Cincinnati striker Brandon Vazquez is in the form of his life to start the 2022 MLS season.
The 23-year-old has scored two goals in back-to-back weeks, powering consecutive Orange & Blue victories for the first time since June 2021. Vazquez’s Week 4 performance also included an assist and drawn penalty kick in a 3-1 win over Inter Miami CF, building off a 2-1 win at Orlando City SC last weekend.
Head coach Pat Noonan, in his first year at the helm after being a Philadelphia Union assistant coach, naturally loves what he sees.
“His upside, his potential is massive,” Noonan said after Saturday’s result at TQL Stadium. “You can see that with his last two performances. Not just with the goals, but his ability to hold the ball, his ability to work defensively for our team. He does a lot of little things to help the group have success.
“In the end, as a striker, you have to finish plays off. And he's doing that right now, so his overall performances for the group are what's helping us to have success and win games.”
Brandon Vázquez brace for FC Cincinnati vs. Inter Miami
This scoring run isn’t a flash in the pan, with Vazquez recording four goals and two assists across a seven-game stretch as Cincy’s 2021 campaign wound down. And aside from Columbus Crew midfielder Lucas Zelaryan, no attacking player is in better form this year.
It all begs the question of how loud calls for a US men’s national team opportunity could get, at least as social media chatter intensifies around that topic. Vazquez represented US youth national teams extensively from the U-17s through the U-20s, though awaits his senior-level debut.
“It's baby steps, it's not all of a sudden national team,” Noonan said, preaching patience. “Let's just continue to work the right way for your club and if you continue to perform like this, there'll be other opportunities out there for you. He's got the right mentality, though. He doesn't think too much of himself after he has a successful day or successful game. That part is important and that's going to help him move him along in the right way with the right head on his shoulders.”
It’s a similar message from Vazquez, who turned pro with Atlanta United ahead of their 2017 expansion season after developing at Liga MX side Club Tijuana. The San Diego, Calif., native then joined Cincy before the 2020 season via a trade with Nashville SC following an Expansion Draft selection.
“I'm focused here. This is my main focus now,” Vazquez said. “I'm going to keep working hard and keep scoring goals and do the best I can to get wins for this team and for this city.”
As those conversations unfold, the challenge for Vazquez becomes building off these performances. He’s now in his sixth MLS season and will soon crack 2,900 regular-season minutes, reflecting the reserve spot he’s largely held beforehand.
“Since I've been younger, I've seen that only extra work gets you to a better place,” Vazquez said. “I feel like all the extra work I do, I've been doing it for years and years now. I've just been patient, waiting and waiting. When you come off the bench, sometimes it's hard. You're limited with opportunities, with time and some opportunities are tough in that moment.”
To keep on this path, Vazquez stressed the importance of being more than a goalscorer. He credited learning alongside Atlanta ace Josef Martinez and former Cincy DP Jurgen Locadia as molding this outlook – one that’s making him a bonafide breakout player candidate.
“I've picked up pieces of everything, the best of all the players I've played with,” Vazquez said. “I know for the center forward, there's a lot of extra stuff you need to bring to the table and I try to cover all those, I try to check all the boxes. I'm always trying to improve and do the best I can, not leave anything on the field.”