Hell is Real... again.
The second meeting between Columbus Crew SC and FC Cincinnati in Major League Soccer play occurs on Sunday night on national television. The two teams played just 15 days ago at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus. That game ended in a 2-2 draw with Cincinnati going up 2-0 in the first half an hour before the Black & Gold fought back in the second half.
This matchup takes place at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. Neither team is where they want to be in the standings, sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. But a win in this game for either side will help create a good feeling, at least for a week, and give bragging rights to the fans for the offseason.
So who will take the points in this Hell is Real? Let’s see what our staff thinks.
One of the stunning consistencies of the 2019 Columbus Crew SC season has been disappointing performances against teams in the bottom of the league, both at MAPFRE Stadium and on the road. In the second and final Hell Is Real game of this MLS regular season, the Black & Gold face the worst team in MLS in FC Cincinnati. Similar to the clash on Aug. 10, this game should have plenty of goals. However, the Crew’s defense continues to have fundamental issues with marking, positioning and communication that still has not been addressed (in late August). Simply mind-boggling.
Columbus should win this game — add in absolute necessity for three points — but sadly this kind of presumption has been disproven way too many times during this season to have confidence that the magical turn is coming this weekend for Caleb Porter’s Crew.
FC Cincinnati 3 Columbus Crew SC 2
Hell is absolutely real and that was more than justified in the first meeting between the Columbus Crew and FC Cincinnati. For a second time in a mere two weeks, the Hell is Real Derby is upon us. Cincinnati trail the Black & Gold on points by eight with 17 but have two games in hand. The biggest question for Columbus now is how can a team with a 1-1-9 record on the road find a result, now? Especially in a hostile environment and after all of the ups and downs they’ve faced this season.
Even if the seasons of these respective teams are over and checked out, there’s still much to play for for both sides. Columbus is looking for a late push for the playoffs and Cincinnati is looking to spoil the party. The Crew need three points to keep its playoff hopes alive. If Cincinnati can write the script and win, the team will have not only the upper-hand in this rivalry, but the Crew’s season will have officially hit its lowest point. However, I firmly believe the Black & Gold get it done on the road in a thriller and keep the playoff talk relevant a little longer.
Columbus Crew SC 3 FC Cincinnati 2
In what should be a rocking environment at Nippert Stadium, the second edition of Hell is Real will more or less be the pinnacle for either Ohio team’s season. FC Cincy hasn’t had a realistic shot at the playoffs since May. While Columbus may have had a slight hope with its unbeaten streak over the last month, but compiling draws instead of wins has all but ended the Crew’s chances of postseason play. If Game 1 of Hell is Real was any indication of how the second affair will be, we should see plenty of saves, goals and cheers. I don’t know if this is my homer side speaking, but I think the Crew steal all three points.
Columbus Crew SC 2 FC Cincinnati 1
Columbus rotated some starters on Wednesday, presumably to prepare for the second rendition of Hell is Real of the season. This time, the Black & Gold will travel to Cincinnati in what is sure to be a wild atmosphere at Nippert Stadium. Columbus missed a number of opportunities in the first match against FC Cincinnati. Hopefully with Gyasi Zardes getting a break on Wednesday, he will be able to find his shooting boots in time for this game, as he has some crucial misses in the last few weeks and the Crew will rely on him to make the most of his chances if the team is to come out with three points from this match. I think Zardes and the rest of the team will be up for the challenge and will pick up their first win in the Hell is Real derby.
Columbus Crew 2 FC Cincinnati 1
As I’ve said the last few weeks, the playoffs are not something the Crew need to worry about any longer. But a win against Cincinnati would at least make Black & Gold fans feel good for a bit. It would also save the team more embarrassment after losing to FC Cincy in the Open Cup when the team was in the USL and the disappointing tie two weeks ago.
Since FC Cincinnati didn’t have a game midweek, Columbus rested players, so fitness should not be an issue. The injury situation isn’t any better for the Black & Gold this week, so you can expect a normal Crew lineup. It will all be about mentality and who handles the pressure better. I think it’s another split of the points.
Columbus Crew SC 2 FC Cincinnati 2
Six matches left, four of them away, seven points beneath the playoff line (but more like nine or 10 with other clubs having games in hand). The Crew’s playoff hopes are dwindling after three draws and a loss. The feeling of failure these last several weeks is surprising considering Columbus supporters were dying for anything other than a loss earlier this season. They will surely feel the same about Sunday’s match if Columbus leaves Cincinnati with anything less than a win.
The Bailey will be rocking and the atmosphere should rival that of FC Cincinnati’s home opener. It may very well be the toughest environment Columbus plays in this season. But the Crew look to prove that the last matchup was a fluke. Caleb Porter rested Wil Trapp, Gyasi Zardes and Pedro Santos (partially) on Wednesday to ensure they are ready to go for 90 minutes on Sunday.
I am expecting the Crew to come out fast. Alright, that might be more of a hope. But if the Black & Gold can come out aggressive, Josh Williams makes an appearance at left back to bring additional experience to the backline, and the forwards finish their chances, Cincinnati will clearly understand why Hell Is Real.
Columbus Crew SC 3 FC Cincinnati 1
What’s your score prediction for the second Hell is Real Derby of the season? Let us know in the comment section below.