“I think still he can be stronger, but he’s still young,” de Boer said. “These kinds of games are good for him to get in the rhythm and understand the game, and what we expect from him. I think he can look back at a good performance, it’s good that he’s showing his quality. I think he can still do much better, especially physically. If I see his body, he has so much to gain, and he knows that I want it from him, and he’s really working hard for it, and that’s paid off for right now.”
Vazquez, 20, has been a revelation since scoring four goals in Atlanta United’s first two games in the U.S. Open Cup. Playing as a second striker underneath or beside Josef Martinez on Wednesday, Vazquez consistently dropped back, received passes and then played them back into wide spaces for Periera and Julian Gressel to exploit.
Houston’s defenders tried to body Vazquez, but he’s so big that the attempts were frequently unsuccessful. His movement and the threat of his size and aerial ability also created space for Martinez.
And Vazquez’s effort on defense, from creating a turnover in the first seconds, didn’t go unnoticed.
“Brandon (Vazquez) was very good in terms of his ability to close their players down and make it hard on them to find the next pass,” goalkeeper Brad Guzan said.