FC Cincinnati's Brandon Vazquez, Roman Celentano Get Tapped for USMNT's January Camp

They're just the third and fourth players in club history to make the camp at the senior level.

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click to enlarge FC Cincinnati forward Brandon Vazquez celebrates during a match on July 13, 2022. - Photo: instagram.com/fccincinnati
Photo: instagram.com/fccincinnati
FC Cincinnati forward Brandon Vazquez celebrates during a match on July 13, 2022.

FC Cincinnati is heading to camp. A big, big camp.

Forward Brandon Vazquez and goalkeeper Roman Celentano have been called up to the U.S. Men's National Team's January training camp, something that had been rumored for Vazquez for quite some time. They're among 24 players who will head to Los Angeles to kick off the 2026 FIFA World Cup cycle (As a city, Cincinnati failed to secure a World Cup match for 2026). Players from the camp – typically filled with rising talents – often are called upon to join a World Cup roster later.

This will be Vazquez' first call-up at the senior level, though he previously participated at the U-17, U-19 and U-20 levels. Celentano will head to his first USMNT camp at any level. According to media materials, they are the third and fourth players in FC Cincinnati club history to make the camp at the senior level.

Vazquez and attacking midfielder Luciano Acosta were included in Major League Soccer’s 2022 Best XI selections, marking the first time that FC Cincy players were celebrated among the top 11 players in the MLS. Vazquez notched 18 goals on the season, a personal career high. He led the league in open-play goals (16) tied for the most header goals (six) and set FC Cincinnati records for goals across all competitions, shots and shots on goal while becoming the first Cincinnati player to score multiple goals in consecutive games. Acosta tallied 10 goals and an MLS-leading 19 assists for the regular season. Cincinnati's captain tied for third in the league for goal contributions – 29, a career high – and also led the club in game-winning assists with five. Together, Vazquez and Acosta became the first pair of teammates with at least 25 goal contributions in a single season since 2018.

Both Vazquez and Acosta were selected for the MLS All-Star Game
during the summer. It marked the first time any member of Cincinnati's club had been invited to the game in the league's 26 installments (FC Cincinnati became the 24th team to enter the MLS as a professional soccer team in 2019; before that, the team played in the second-division United Soccer League from 2016 to 2018).

In August, Vazquez signed a contract extension that will keep him with FC Cincinnati through 2025.

"We are delighted to keep Brandon with FC Cincinnati for years to come," general manager Chris Albright said at the time. "Re-signing Brandon was a major priority for us this summer, as he has proven he can be one of the league's best forwards. He has been a vital part of our success this season thanks to his character and dedication to the game, and we are excited to have him as a foundational piece going forward."

Celentano was Cincinnati's first-round selection in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft and made 27 appearances as the starting goalkeeper in his rookie year. According to media materials, Celentano's 85 saves, two penalties saved, and 67% save percentage ranked best in MLS among goalkeepers aged 22 or younger.

Preparing for the 2023 season

FC Cincinnati's pre-season schedule is about to start, with five friendlies on the slate beginning Jan. 27. The team will return to Cincinnati to train Feb. 21-24 before the Feb. 25 season opener against Houston Dynamo FC at TQL Stadium. Season tickets are on sale now, while single tickets will go on sale Jan. 26.

FC Cincinnati had a banner 2022 season, including its first-ever MLS Cup postseason berth, a postseason win against a higher seed and a club record for consecutive scoring games. Cincinnati went 12-9 with 13 draws in the regular season, clinching its spot in the playoffs with a win over D.C. United during the final game Oct. 9. The Orange and Blue followed that up with an MLS Cup playoff victory against the New York Red Bulls, with the season coming to a close on Oct. 20 with a playoff loss to Eastern Conference top seed Philadelphia Union. The 2022 season also marked the first time Cincinnati did not finish in last place in the Eastern Conference.

According to FC Cincinnati head coach Pat Noonan, 2022's successes will spur new challenges in 2023.

"Now we're not surprising anybody in 2023. It's only going to get more difficult, which is a good thing," Noonan said in October. "I've been around this league long enough to know that year in and year out is very difficult to maintain success. It's only going to get more difficult. 2022 was about culture, identity, ways to progress the team to be competitive, and we got there. Now we need to improve on that and have some specific things that we're going to target from the very beginning."

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