Crew Coverage pres. by Medical Mutual | Nancy: ‘Disappointed for the fans’ after in Hell is Real

Usually after Hell is Real derby wins, the Columbus Crew locker room is filled with laughter, music and smiles. On Saturday night, the room was somber and virtually silent.

The message from everyone was clear: the Black & Gold didn’t play to their typical standard. Unfortunately, it happened to be against FC Cincinnati in Hell is Real at Field.

“First of all, we are disappointed for the fans, obviously, and also for us because I know that this is an important game,” head coach Wilfried Nancy said after the 2-1 loss. “I know that my players want to do well. Now, on this one, it's been a long time that we haven't lost at home. We knew that something like this [could happen].”

Columbus conceding two goals in two minutes was the difference Saturday night.

Scoreless through 70 minutes, the visitors took the lead in the 74th minute from a Kevin Kelsy header. Lucho Acosta doubled the deficit two minutes later.

But the Crew fought back.

Max Arfsten scored his first goal of 2024 in the 89th minute when he finished a Crew attack that worked around the Cincinnati 18-yard box. After Sean Zawadzki had a shot blocked, the rebound fell to Arfsten, who then cut back and delivered a curling back-post shot to trim the deficit.

The home side continued pushing for a second goal, but to no avail. Instead, a Crew team that’s normally resilient and closes out games had the same thing happen to them.

“I'm not concerned because the idea is to be pragmatic, to be honest and to move forward,” Nancy said. “The idea is to move forward. Yes, this is Cincinnati; I'm not happy with that, my players are not happy also with that, but we have to move forward. We know that we're going to be able to get better.”

Following Saturday’s derby, the Black & Gold have another league match on Wednesday night when they travel to Canada and face CF Montréal for the second time in the past month.

Including that match, the reigning league champs will play six-consecutive road games – including the Concacaf Champions Cup Final at CF Pachuca – before returning to Field on June 22 against Western Conference side Sporting Kansas City.

“The good thing about playing on Wednesday is you got to have short term memory and you get to kind of go and make a statement again,” goalkeeper Patrick Schulte said. “You get a good chance to redeem yourself. And it's one game at a time and yeah, we might have six on the road, but you know, it's one game at a time and we got to redeem ourselves from what happened.”

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