Crew Coverage

By The Numbers pres. by Ohio Business Machines | Hell is Real Saturday night at FC Cincinnati

The end is near! Repent your sins! Hell is Real!

It’s time for Columbus Crew supporters to drive south past the religious billboards once again as the Crew heads to face FC Cincinnati on Saturday night in the first Hell is Real Derby in 2023.

This is a rivalry that needs no words to explain it…but let’s revisit the good times in this affair…

Three Things to Know

11 – Saturday night marks the 11th league Hell is Real derby since 2019, and the Columbus Crew is unbeaten in 10 of those matches. Cincinnati’s lone win in the rivalry came in 2020, when the clubs met for the fourth time that season. The Crew already won two previous matchups and would go on to win MLS Cup. Cincinnati finished with a third-straight Wooden Spoon. But bragging rights aside, Columbus truly has dominated the rivalry to date, as the Black & Gold have won five of the 10 meetings. Additionally, the Crew has earned a point in its two visits to TQL Stadium — and both were come-from-behind draws that stirred up the visiting supporters while leaving FCC fans silenced. This is a new season and a much different Cincinnati team from the past, but you better believe Cincinnati fans will enter TQL Stadium with the ghosts of previous derbies in the backs of their minds. (Or the fact Columbus has outscored Cincinnati, 22-11, in the rivalry.)

9 + 10LuCucho. On Wednesday night, Crew fans were treated to the South American connection, as Lucas Zelarayán scored the club’s opening goal, thanks to a through ball from Cucho Hernández. Zelarayán has been a terror for opposing backlines and has five goals and three assists through 10 league appearances. As for Cucho, he missed time with a knee injury, but he’s still produced an impactful goal and four assists through six games. When these players connect, they’re among one of the top attacking pairings in MLS. On Saturday night, they’ll square off with Luciano Acosta and Brandon Vazquez — Cincinnati’s attacking pairing.

1 — As mentioned earlier, this is not your parent’s FCC. The three-time Wooden Spoon winners have turned into legitimate contenders under head coach Pat Noonan, and Cincinnati currently leads the Eastern Conference standings. The Orange and Blue has won every home game in 2023, including Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup ties, and enters Saturday night having pummeled CF Montréal, 3-0, on Wednesday night. This is the quickest turnaround yet for these teams, so it’ll be interesting to see which club has a fresher squad.

When They Last Met

Who could forget the 2-2 draw on Aug. 27, 2022, inside TQL Stadium. Trailing 1-0, Derrick Etienne Jr., scored against his former club to equalize the match in the 74th minute. Three minutes later, FCC reclaimed the lead, but Steven Moreira snatched it in the 96th minute when he scored his long-range equalizer to stun the home supporters.

Note: Crew fans, watch this clip until the end…

Match Overview

Who: Columbus Crew at FC Cincinnati

When: Saturday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m.

Where: TQL Stadium

How to Listen: 97.1 HD3/The Fan Stream, La Mega 103.1 FM

Current Standings: Columbus Crew – Fifth in Eastern Conference; FC Cincinnati – First in Eastern Conference

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