US Open Cup overlay: Brandon Vazquez and Mikey Ambrose celebrate a goal for Atlanta
USA Today Sports

Atlanta United's Vazquez makes case for playing time in US Open Cup win

KENNESAW, Ga. – Only 18 years old, Atlanta United FC forward Brandon Vazquez was recently called into the US U-20 national team camp in December, though Tab Ramos ultimately chose not to put him on the final roster for the U-20 World Cup, just concluded in South Korea.

Despite not getting a chance to make in impact for the national team, Vazquez played a major role in his first start of the season for Atlanta United as they defeated the Charleston Battery 3-2 in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday at Kennesaw State University. He notched a goal and an assist while playing the full 90 minutes.

In the 48th minute, Josef Martinez headed in a cross from Vazquez, and in the 72nd minute, Vazquez put one in himself with a side-footed finish off a Mikey Ambrose cross.

It was only the fifth appearance of the season across all competitions for Vazquez, but his teammates came away impressed.

“It’s good for [Brandon], he’s working hard in training,” said midfielder Kevin Kratz. “It’s always good to show yourself on the field, to show what your capable of. I’m happy for him. He worked hard when he came in against Chicago too for a few minutes.”

Defender Mark Bloom added: “He’s a player that works really hard. He has the talent, and I think he can score a lot of goals. That’s what he brings to the table and I’d like to see more of that really.”

Before the match against the Battery, Vazquez had not tallied more than 17 minutes in a single match all season. He scored his first goal in his MLS debut against Real Salt Lake in April.

With Martinez back after an injury, and Hector Villalba playing well up top for the expansion side, Vazquez may not be first choice yet, but producing in limited minutes shouldn't hurt his case.

Kratz noted that it’s important to have players like Vazquez who can step into the lineup and succeed.

“It shows that we don’t have only 11, 12, 13 players,” said Kratz. “There are some other players as well so there’s a lot of competition within the squad and that’s always good to have.”