Cincinnati forward Brandon Vazquez has come under heavy criticism for requesting Lionel Messi’s autograph on his shirt following their U.S. Open Cup defeat. In the wake of Messi’s move to the United States, it has become customary for opposing players to exchange jerseys or interact with the Argentine superstar after matches. Despite Cincinnati’s elimination from the tournament due to another impressive Messi performance, Vazquez approached the 2022 World Cup champion for his autograph as a keepsake.
However, Vazquez’s actions have sparked disapproval among a section of fans and ESPN experts, particularly Steve Nicol and Alejandro Moreno.
Nicol expressed his strong disapproval on ESPN FC, stating, “I’m just disgusted with it all, to be honest with you. I’m absolutely disgusted that anybody would lose a cup semi-final… and have the gall to think that it’s okay to go get an autograph of somebody from the opposition. If I was the coach, I’d kick every one of them on my size 12s as they came back in the dressing room.”
Moreno, a former MLS player, echoed Nicol’s sentiments, emphasizing that Vazquez’s behavior lacked competitive pride, self-respect, and a sense of pride in the team and the club. He criticized the gesture, emphasizing that the focus should have been on the team’s goals and achievements, rather than seeking an autograph from a rival player.
Vazquez will aim to regain favor with a strong performance against New York City FC in the MLS, while Messi is set to make his first MLS appearance for Miami against New York Red Bulls. The incident has sparked debate over sportsmanship and competitiveness in the aftermath of a defeat.