2023 Match Reports

Riding the Lightning: Vazquez hat trick helps FC Cincinnati win their Leagues Cup group

Photo: Rob Moore

FC Cincinnati fans had to wait out torrential rain and numerous lightning strikes to see out a win. Fortunately for them, Superman was there to save the day (on the next day).

Needing a positive outcome, FCC (1-1-0, 5 pts.) rode a hat trick from Brandon Vazquez and a mid-match red card to dust off Chivas de Guadalajara 3-1. Cincinnati now awaits their next opponent, while Chivas (0-0-1, 0 pts.) must defeat Sporting Kansas City on Monday to advance.

Cincinnati came into the second match of their Leagues Cup group stage with the opportunity to advance. A win in either regular time or after penalty kicks would seal the deal for qualification, while a loss either way meant the Chivas/Sporting Kansas City match would dictate their fate.

Chivas only needed a regular-time win over FCC to qualify for the next stage.

Guadalajara started a relatively consistent attack from their last Liga MX fixture, replacing only three in the starting lineup. The only MLS mainstay on the bench was former Atlanta United forward Ronald Cisneros. Former Nashville SC and Charlotte FC forward Daniel Rios was left off the lineup.

The Orange & Blue came into the match with some decent rotation after opting to switch around the starting lineup against SKC. Yerson Mosquera and Junior Moreno were notably on the bench to start, replaced by Matt Miazga and Obinna Nwobodo. Sergio Santos was penciled in to start, but a late hamstring issue forced Vazquez into the Starting XI.

As if scripted, Vazquez provided a sudden impact. In the second minute, the forward scored on his childhood team, recovering an Aaron Boupendza pass and cracking a right-footed curler from outside the box to make it 1-0.

The next serving of pancakes came six minutes later. In the eighth minute, passes from Ian Murphy and Luciano Acosta found Alvaro Barreal on the left. Barreal streaked into the six-yard box and fed a pass to Vazquez, who popped a right-footed shot into the goal. His ninth of the year across all club competitions made it 2-0.

While Chivas contained the ball in the Cincinnati half for much of the next 35 minutes, Cincinnati had chances to extend the lead. A double save by Jose Rangel in the 34th minute kept Acosta and Nwobodo off the scoreboard.

Guadalajara’s best shot came in the 36th minute. Roberto Alvarado managed space in the box, but his shot was blocked by a streaking Miazga. Alvarado had another chance in the 42nd minute, only to mistime his shot atop the box.

As the half petered out, a foul to Boupendza in the 45th minute brought out a yellow card against Chivas defender Gilberto Sepulveda. However, VAR indicated that Sepulveda fouled Boupendza in a goal-scoring opportunity. The Chivas defender was given a straight red card, reducing Chivas to 10 men.

The second half started with a good dose of Chivas possession, only for Mother Nature to storm the pitch. Lightning in the area paused the match in the 60th minute, delaying the match for over three and a half hours before it was officially postponed to the next afternoon. For the sake of a speedy and safe outcome, the match was closed to the public.

The first play Friday afternoon on resumption was a shock to the system. Cristian Calderon’s throw-in from the right met Antonio Briseño’s head in the box. The header evaded Kann’s outstretched arm to make the score 2-1.

While Chivas was buzzing from the momentum shift, FCC had time to re-establish the two-goal lead. Vazquez, fresh off of missing his hat-trick opportunity in the 65th minute, buzzed into the box and tapped home a Barreal cross in the 73rd minute. There was a question if Vazquez was offside, only for the goal to stand after a VAR review.

Vazquez’s first hat trick with the Orange and Blue made it 3-1 and virtually ended the comeback for Chivas.

The striker greeted the media with the game ball in hand, autographed by members of the team. “What do you think?” Vazquez quipped when asked where the ball would go. “Gonna frame that.”

“It’s a weird feeling for sure,” Vazquez replied after scoring his goals on two consecutive days. “Kinda nice, actually. I got to rest the legs a little bit and play the last thirty (minutes), felt fresh today.”

“I’m really pleased with the performance over the course of the two days from our group against a very strong opponent,” Pat Noonan shared at his press conference. “I would say the only blip was the throw-in that went into the goal. Aside from that, I think it was one of our strongest performances. We accomplished our goal to be at the top of the group and getting another game here at TQL (Stadium). We’re very pleased with that.”

FC Cincinnati no longer needs to await the result for the Sporting Kansas City/Chivas match on Monday. Cincinnati will now take on the runner-up in the Central 4 group in the knockout round. Currently, Nashville sits in that position, but a Colorado win over Toluca could change everything.

Central 3, Match 2 – Chivas de Guadalajara vs FC Cincinnati
TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Attendance: 25,143
Result: FC Cincinnati 3, Chivas Guadalajara 1


Chivas Guadalajara Starting XI (4-1-4-1):

Jose Rangel (GK); Alan Mozo (Jesus Sanchez 80′), Gilberto Sepulveda, Jesus Orozco, Cristian Calderon; Erick Gutierrez (Isaac Brizuela 93′); Ricardo Marin (Ernesto Vega 46’), Victor Guzman (c) (Ronaldo Cisneros 80′), Fernando Beltran, Jonathan Padilla (Antonio Briseño 46’); Roberto Alvarado.

Bench: Pavel Perez, Manuel Mayorga, Miguel Jimenez, Fernando Gonzalez, Alan Torres, Oscar Whalley, Juan Brigido.

FC Cincinnati Starting XI (5-3-2):

Alec Kann (GK); Ray Gaddis (Alvas Powell 90′), Nick Hagglund, Matt Miazga, Ian Murphy, Alvaro Barreal (Bret Halsey 90′); Obinna Nwobodo, Luciano Acosta (c) (Malik Pinto 90′), Marco Angulo (Junior Moreno 76′); Brandon Vazquez, Aaron Boupendza (Yuya Kubo 61′).

Bench: Roman Celentano, Joseph Akpunonu, Yerson Mosquera, Paul Walters, Quimi Ordoñez, London Aghedo.

Scoring Summary:
CIN – Brandon Vazquez 2’ (Boupendza)
CIN – Brandon Vazquez 8’ (Barreal)
GUA – Antonio Briseño 61′ (Calderon)
CIN – Brandon Vazquez 73′ (Barreal)

RC – Gilberto Sepulveda 45’ (GUA, professional foul, last man)
YC – Alvaro Barreal 73′ (CIN, argument)
YC – Marco Angulo 73′ (CIN, argument)
YC – Alan Mozo 73′ (GUA, argument)
YC – Veljko Paunovic 94′ (GUA, coach dissent)

Next up:
Leagues Cup, Round of 32
vs. Runner-up Central 4, Date T.B.D. (TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, OH)

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