Brandon Vazquez: The US star linked with Rangers - 20-goal season, Mexico option, 'massive potential'

Rangers have been credited with an interest in US international striker Brandon Vazquez – but could face serious competition to sign him.

According to a report, the Ibrox side, as well as three Premier League clubs, have been keeping tabs on the 24-year-old who plays for FC Cincinnati in MLS with scouts sent to watch him in action. Michael Beale has not hidden his desire to add to his squad in the summer with at least five new players set to arrive with attacking reinforcements high on the list of priorities.

Who is Brandon Vazquez?

The 6ft3in striker is American-born but also qualifies to represent Mexico where he began his career with Club Tijuana. Coming through the side's academy, his days used to involve getting up at 5am so he could be dropped off at the border to walk across and then take an Uber to reach training. He would progress to make one appearance for the first-team before being signed by Atlanta United .“Brandon has the natural goal scoring ability you look for in young forwards,” former Rangers defender Carlos Bocanegra, who is Atlanta's technical director, said.

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He started as an impact player, coming off the bench on the wing. He made his scoring debut at 18 but never managed to become a first-team regular, featuring for the club’s second string during the 2018 and 2019 seasons, before a move to FC Cincinnati. He started to showcase his talent towards the end of his second season in 2021. He scored consecutive goals against Chicago Fire, Inter Miami and Nashville SC in October which put him in a good place for the 2022 MLS season. Despite a bout of Covid he demonstrated his hard work and willing attitude, turning up to pre-season a week early to get himself in the best shape possible. What followed was a 20-goal season. He just missed out on a call-up for the US World Cup squad but made his debut in January, scoring in a win over Serbia.

What type of striker is Vazquez?

“A big part of what makes Vazquez so goal dangerous, besides his frame, is his movement," wrote MLS Soccer writer Joseph Lowry. “Like pretty much every impressive goalscorer, Vazquez is aggressive with his runs.”

Last season he played as part of a strike partnership and benefited from having Luciano Acosta operating as a No.10 behind him. The Argentine was one of the most creative players in the entire MLS in the 2022 season. Vazquez simply kept giving him good options with his movement, runs, ability to act as a focal point, always being available for a pass.

Brandon Vazquez made his debut for the US national team earlier this year. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)Brandon Vazquez made his debut for the US national team earlier this year. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Brandon Vazquez made his debut for the US national team earlier this year. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

What do the stats say?

The 2023 MLS season is only a handful of games old and Vazquez has netted once. A glance at last season’s stats show he sat fourth in the league for goal contributions with 27. No player in the league had more headed attempts than his 22. His expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes was 0.47 from 2.23 shots and 4.04 touches in the box. For context Antonio Colak: xG per 90 0.69, shots 3.92 and touches in the box 6.18. Alfredo Morelos: xG per 90 0.67, shots 4.32 and touches in the box 8.31

What has been said?

FC Cincinnati head coach Pat Noonan is clearly a big fan. In a game last season where Vazquez didn't score he was still effusive in his praise.

"Brandon's defensive work is so instrumental in us being able to be aggressive in our defensive approach and he's committed to doing that to help his team," he said via "And while he didn't find the score sheet, those are the little details that help you win games and help you find success, individually and collectively. And Brandon is showing it's not just about the goals; he's going to help his team in any way possible to get a result.”

More generally, he said: “His potential is massive. 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. He’s got the right mentality, though. He doesn’t think too much of himself after he has a successful day or a successful game.”

Contract situation?

Vazquez is contracted until the end of December, 2025.

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