LEAGUES CUP 2023
Brandon Vazquez bags two-day hat-trick against Chivas Guadalajara
FC Cincinnati are leading the way in MLS and secured top spot in their Leagues Cup group with a bizarre weather-delayed victory.
Brandon Vasquez was the hero as FC Cincinnati secured their place in the knock-out rounds of the Leagues Cup with a 3-1 victory over Chivas Guadalajara.
USMNT star Vazquez scored three times to cement his side’s status Central 3 group winners, despite a 16-hour mid-game delay due to poor weather. The 24-year-old was not initially named in the starting XI but a warm-up injury to Sergio Santos gave him the opportunity to feature from the start.
“It was a little weird, but I was prepared for it,” Vazquez explained after the game. “I always prepare for games the same way whether I’m starting or not, eating the same meals, getting good sleep, resting up.”
He continued: “I only found out I was starting five minutes before kickoff, so I had to throw the shin guards on, throw the jersey on, and go outside and start doing sprints.”
Cincinnati vs Chivas hit by lightning delay
Vazquez’s goals made him the hero for Cincinnati but the game will be remembered for much more than the 24-year-old’s impressive hat-trick. Extreme weather ensured that the game, which began on Thursday evening, had to be completed behind closed doors on Friday afternoon.
The forward’s early brace gave Cincinnati a commanding two-goal lead and the Liga MX side suffered the dismissal of Gilberto Sepulveda shortly before the break. Play resumed in the second half but a heavy storm soon brought the action to a halt.
On the 60th minute the referee was forced to suspend the game due to lightning near the stadium, a four-hour spell that included more than 6,000 lightning strikes within eight miles of the TQL Stadium.
A statement from FC Cincinnati explained that the lightning storm “presented a severe injury risk for players, staff, and all involved with the on-field production” and that a decision had been taken to pick up the final half hour of action the following day.
The two sides resumed hostilities on Friday afternoon and Chivas appeared rejuvenated by the delay, scoring within minutes of the restart to halve the deficit. However Vazquez was soon on the scoresheet once again, completing his hat-trick in the 73rd minute to become just the second player in club history to hit a treble.
After the game, Cincinnati defender Matt Miazga said that the team had done well to finish the job after severe weather disruption.
“It’s hard to wait that long. You have to try to make sure you’re ready,” he said.
“We were right on the ball, kept moving around and hit them with daggers. I think that was the most important thing, staying composed and not getting too complacent.”
FC Cincinnati will look to extend their 100% record in the Leagues Cup when the knock-out round begins next week. Domestically the Orange and Blue are leading the way in the Supporters Shield and have picked up 2.2 points per game through their first 23 games of the MLS campaign.