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Nashville SC selects, trades Atlanta United’s Brandon Vazquez in MLS Expansion Draft

The Five Stripes lose their backup to Josef Martínez.

Brandon Vázquez takes a shot during Atlanta United's 3-2 win over the Columbus Crew.
Brandon Vázquez takes a shot during Atlanta United's 3-2 win over the Columbus Crew in the U.S. Open Cup round of 16 at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, on June 18, 2019. (Courtesy of Atlanta United)

Atlanta United lost its second-choice center forward in the Major League Soccer Expansion Draft Tuesday evening. Nashville SC selected Brandon Vazquez with the eighth-overall pick in the draft.

Upon making the pick, Nashville general manager Mike Jacobs said his team will “explore the opportunity to possibly trade” Vazquez.

That trade happened immediately after the draft. Nashville sent Vázquez to FC Cincinnati in exchange for $150,000 in 2020 Targeted Allocation Money and $50,000 in 2021 General Allocation Money.

Vazquez signed with Atlanta from Liga MX’s Club Tijuana in 2016. In the Five Stripes’ inaugural 2017 campaign, he scored one goal over 13 regular-season appearances and added two strikes in two starts during U.S. Open Cup play. Vazquez played in eight regular season games and made two Open Cup starts in 2018 but ended the year without a goal.

In 2019, the 21-year-old became the preferred backup to Josef Martínez. Vazquez earned his first MLS start June 26 at Toronto FC and finished the regular season with two goals and one assist in 11 appearances (seven starts). He played an important role in the Five Strips’ Open Cup title run, appearing in three games with one start and bagging four goals, including game-winners against the Charleston Battery and Columbus Crew.  

Though Vazquez was never going to threaten Martínez for his starting job, the young American’s departure does leave a hole in Atlanta. Romario Williams was traded to Columbus after Vazquez’s emergence as the clear-cut No. 2. Frank de Boer’s team now has only one natural center forward on the senior roster going into a season that will include Concacaf Champions League and Open Cup games in addition to the MLS regular-season schedule. 

Atlanta and Nashville will meet as league opponents for the first time Feb. 29, 2020, in Nashville’s inaugural MLS game.

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