By The Numbers

By The Numbers | Crew host FC Cincinnati for Hell is Real

Is water turning to blood and a portal opening up into the underworld? Not to our knowledge.

But we do know the sign got painted since the last time these clubs met, which can only mean one thing:

Hell is Real!

The reigning MLS Cup champions, Columbus Crew, host FC Cincinnati on Saturday night in a 2023 MLS Eastern Conference Final rematch and Hell is Real Derby spectacle.

Numbers to Know

5 – The Columbus Crew are fifth in the Eastern Conference with 15 points from 10 games – nine points off the conference-leading Lionel Messi and Inter Miami CF. Some of this is to be expected, though. The Crew are MLS’ only team left in Concacaf Champions Cup and, honestly, have had other priorities recently. The Crew have played four more continental matches than Cincinnati, for example. So, the Black & Gold have deployed squad rotations for regular-season games, leading to five-straight draws in MLS play. That said, Columbus just had a bye week and enters this match with a full recovery time – a luxury that didn’t exist two weeks ago.

27 – This number is all about the Crew supporters. The Black & Gold are unbeaten in their last 27 matches at Field, which includes MLS, Concacaf Champions Cup and Leagues Cup action. (The Leagues Cup shootout was technically a draw). In short, the reigning league champs are a very, very difficult matchup at home. In fact, since August 2022, the Crew are unbeaten in 37-of-their-last-38 home games. That stat is staggering and can be attributed to so many things – and something to remember entering Saturday’s derby.

2 – FC Cincinnati won the 2023 Supporters’ Shield and has been strong to start 2024. FCC is second in the Eastern Conference with 21 points from 11 games and enters the Ohio capital with three-consecutive wins. That said, the southern neighbors – at least at the moment – don’t pack the same punch as last season. Brenner, Brandon Vazquez and Alvaro Barreal are gone. Aaron Boupendza is out with a broken jaw from an off-field incident. Corey Baird only has one goal in 11 appearances. Kevin Kelsy just joined on loan and has one appearance. The club won by small margins in 2023 and is doing the same in 2024. Every FCC league win this year was decided by a single goal. What’s fascinating is the club’s greatest strength is its backline of Matt Miazga and Miles Robinson. FCC has only allowed nine goals this season. The Crew, however, are much more attacking-minded and play a more open, attractive style … and have also only conceded nine goals. Don’t enter this match downplaying Cincinnati – but don’t fear the attacking prowess of the side too much, either.

10 – As Luciano Acosta goes, so does FCC. The reigning MLS MVP has five goals and five assists through 11 league appearances in 2024. In 2023, he scored 17 goals and had 14 assists. He distributes while creating on his own. (He literally scored seconds into last week’s match). Yes, the rivals have one of the top players in the league. But the frontline around him is lacking in quality – as of recently. So long as Lucho doesn’t find space or have dead-ball situations, his impact can be limited, and he’ll get frustrated. But if he’s given time, he punishes opponents.

When They Last Met

Who could forget that Massive, magical night in Cincinnati? (Yes, those exist). These teams last met in the 2023 MLS Eastern Conference Final on Dec. 2, 2023 at TQL Stadium. Vazquez and Lucho doubled the Columbus deficit entering halftime, but the Crew fought back with two goals in the final 15 minutes to force extra time. First came an Alvas Powell own goal before Diego Rossi scored the equalizer. In extra time, Christian Ramirez produced the game-winner in the 115th minute to seal the ultimate win – solidifying a comeback, hoisting a trophy AND ending your rival's season.

Match Overview

Who: Columbus Crew host FC Cincinnati

When: Saturday, May 11 at 7:45 p.m. ET

Where: Field

How to Listen: La Grande 102.5 FM | Alt 105.7 FM | iHeart Radio app

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