Brandon Vazquez has been a staple for FC Cincinnati throughout the 2022 Major League Soccer campaign, defying odds by leading the team to fifth on the Eastern Conference table.

The forward managed 18 goals and eight assists alone, propelling Cincinnati to the playoffs while attracting international attention. But Vazquez, who is eligible to play for the United States and Mexico, has yet to receive a senior team call-up by either country.

Despite pleas by supporters, Gregg Berhalter did not include the goalscorer amid a number 9 crisis and Vazquez finally explained why.

“I talked to Gregg right before that [September] camp,” Vazquez told MLS Today, “He was basically saying that it was a little too late to integrate me and that he feels I made it really hard for him and that I just need to keep proving myself and that I’ll [have] that opportunity in the next cycle. Pretty much was that.”

Berhalter opted for Ricardo Pepi, Josh Sargent and Jesus Ferreira instead, prioritizing their history with the national team. 

“For us, it’s comparing him to what we have, comparing him to other guys and then the body of work both with his club and with us,” Berhalter said last month. “And with us, it’s very difficult for him: He doesn’t have a body of work.”

Given the trajectory, Vazquez is now entirely focused on the playoffs. After finishing in the overall last place for three consecutive seasons, FC Cincinnati want to use their underdog image to stun. 

“Everybody knows their job, everybody knows exactly what to do and we have a lot of trust in this coaching staff, a lot of respect. Every time we step on the field we know exactly what we need to do to get the job done and I feel like everybody’s been able to do that extraordinarily this year. We surprised everybody this year and surprised even myself. It’s great,” Vazquez told host David Gass on MLS Today.

“Nobody expected us to be here, but being able to prove a lot of people wrong, it’s been a great feeling and it just shows how strong of a group we are and how much talent we have,” said Vazquez, who joined FCC in 2020. “It’s not over, it’s barely getting started and I think we’re going to keep building off this and for the years to come this will be a standard for us.”

The 2022 MLS playoffs kick off on Saturday, as FC Cincinnati visit the New York Red Bulls for their first round match. 


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