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Upbeat FC Cincinnati host struggling Inter Miami

Mar 25, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; FC Cincinnati forward Brandon Vazquez (19) heads the ball at Geodis Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Vazquez finally found the back of the net in the fifth match of the season, but FC Cincinnati is thriving despite the star striker’s slow start.

Vazquez looks to kick into top gear against a team he terrorized last season when FC Cincinnati (3-0-2, 11 points) host Inter Miami (2-3-0, 6 points) on Saturday night.

Vazquez has five goals in six career matches against Miami, scoring four goals last season — two apiece in a 3-1 victory and a 4-4 road draw.

Last Saturday, he was pleased to get into the goals column for the first time this season, tallying in the 48th minute of a 1-0 road win over Nashville SC.

“It was a big relief. I felt a weight off my shoulders,” Vazquez said afterward. “It just feels so, so good to hit the back of the net and help my team be able to get three points on the road in a hard place. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”

Cincinnati coach Pat Noonan felt the significance as well.

“That was important for him,” Noonan said of Vazquez. “It certainly came at an important time for us in the game, but, hopefully, that is just the start of what I think Brandon himself — and a lot of us — expect in terms of finishing plays off.”

Cincinnati is in second place in the Eastern Conference and is the lone unbeaten squad in the East.

Miami has dropped three straight matches after opening the season with two consecutive wins.

Last Saturday, Miami fell 3-2 to the visiting Chicago Fire. Defender Franco Negri had a goal and an assist, and midfielder Nicolas Stefanelli scored the other goal.

Miami coach Phil Neville didn’t like the result but appreciated his team’s work rate.

“I can’t fault their commitment, their effort, their drive, their determination to try to get back in the game from going two goals down,” Neville said. “That for me was really admirable. … That’s the evolution of a team that’s new and young, not young in age but young in build. We’ve got to learn fast.”

Miami had been shut out in back-to-back games before the two ames against Chicago. Of the team’s six goals this season, midfielder Jean Mota has assisted on three of them.

–Field Level Media

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