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US Soccer Vibe Check: The USMNT needs a striker, throw Brandon Vazquez the dang ball

The Number 23 of soccer is off to a hot start in LigaMX

Monterrey v Atletico San Luis - Torneo Clausura 2024 Liga MX Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Striker has been something of a position of need for the USMNT in what’s passing the half decade mark now. It’s been a while since a reliable no. 9 has been on the roster sheet every international break. Not since Jozy Altidore or even going back to Clint Dempsey has there been a player up top who inspired confidence in the goal scoring department.

This was a pretty big hole in the lineup leading to the 2022 World Cup and it’s not exactly improved dramatically. Ricardo Pepi is an established option off the bench in Holland, Folarin Balogun hasn’t lit up France with Monaco this season but his 4 goals and 3 assists in 945 minutes isn’t bad in terms of returns, and Jesus Ferreira is getting interest from Europe. Though, in the eyes of MLS it’s the wrong Europe.

While an established pick hasn’t emerged, there’s been plenty of hype around the players above and dozens of others. Now it’s Brandon Vazquez’s turn to be the next big thing to solve the no. 9 problem for the USMNT.

Vazquez was in the conversation for this role a few seasons ago when he put up 18 goals and 8 assists with Cincinnati in 2022. He didn’t repeat those numbers last year but was not the focal point of the FCC attack once again. However, Vazquez had 8 goals and 2 assists in 2,373 minutes and was a solid contributor for the best team in the league in 2023.

When January rolled around he began drawing interest from abroad and ended up taking his talents South of the Boarder and joined Monterrey. His debut was a quiet one coming off of the bench for 22 minutes, but in the next two matches he started both games and scored three goals.

His first was a header he bounce passed into the net.

His second was a header that he somehow chipped the keeper with.

His third he made look easy after Monterrey forced a turnover in the best possible spot on the field to win the ball back.

Vazquez got a recent run with the USMNT in the 2023 Gold Cup scoring two goals in three games, but that was under BJ Callaghan. It’s not clear if or how he will fit into Gregg Berhalter’s plans this summer, but if he continues to score goals for Monterrey Vazquez will be hard to ignore.

He’s a good finisher and he possesses a talent that the USMNT striker pool, and team in general, seems to lack some times; he’s a big lad. At 6-2 and 187 pounds, Vazquez brings a physical presence on the field that can be an asset against more technically gifted sides. It might not change the way the world looks at American soccer, but at times a physical player with a nose for goal can level the playing field and make a difference in competitive games.