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Crew exorcise FC Cincinnati demons in 3-1 Hell is Real win

Columbus earns big result on national television.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at FC Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew head coach Caleb Porter on the 3-1 win against FC Cincinnati.

Posted by Massive Report on Sunday, August 25, 2019

Columbus Crew SC waited over two years to secure the team’s first win against FC Cincinnati. That victory came with an emphatic 3-1 scoreline on Sunday in the club’s only nationally televised game of 2019.

Gyasi Zardes scored two and Luis Diaz added another, all in the first half, as the Black & Gold finally beat their in-state rivals.

Columbus controlled the opening 15 minutes, but was unable to turn possession into chances and FC Cincy created the first real danger of the game off a set piece in the 17th minute. The initial service from Victor Ulloa was eventually recycled to Allan Cruz. He sent a ball over the Crew defense that Maikel van der Werff ripped past the far post on the volley.

The Crew offense sprung into action minutes later. Pedro Santos sent in a bending corner that Zardes powered a header on frame. Goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton parried the shot over the bar to keep the game level.

It was the Black & Gold who broke through moments later when Eloy Room played a long ball to Zardes at midfield. The forward found Santos driving through midfield and the Portuguese pushed the ball up to Diaz. The Costa Rican sent an early ball bending around the FC Cincy defense and Zardes finished the play he started with one touch to give the Crew the lead in the 22nd minute.

Columbus stayed on the front foot and extended the lead just over 10 minutes later, again from an early cross sent in from the right side. Youness Mokhtar swung the ball right from midfield to Harrison Afful. The Ghanian right back took a step and sent an early ball into the penalty box. Zardes took a chested touch and flicked the ball over Tyton to put Columbus up 2-0.

The Crew wasn’t finished scoring in the first half as the game entered stoppage time. Santos brought the ball right and sent a cutting pass through the FC Cincinnati midfield to Diaz. The speedy winger fended off the challenge from Andrew Gutman to finish a shot from a tight angle to make it 3-0.

Trailing big, Cincinnati pushed into the attack throughout the second half. Derrick Etienne got free inside the penalty box, but his shot was held by Room in the 55th minute. Former Crew attacker Kekuta Manneh blasted a shot from a tight angle that Room corralled in the 62nd.

FC Cincy had its best chances of the game to that point in the 66th minute. Cruz took a shot from distance that deflected several times before Room parried the ball over the crossbar. Kendal Waston headed Ulloa’s corner kick just wide of the Crew goal to deny Cincinnati. Roland Lamah nearly poked home a cross in the 71st minute, but missed the finish by inches.

Cincinnati did get a late consolation goal through a pass from Emmanuel Ledesma into the heart of the Crew defense, finding Manneh. The former Crew player finished past Room to make it 3-1 in the 89th minute.

The Crew is alright

The Crew must have found something watching game footage because the team consistently attacked down the right side, targeting left back, Gutman, and left center back. Waston. The result was three goals in the first half.

The team also sent in several early crosses that caught the backline flatfooted. The result was that the Crew turned their statistical advantage into goals. The tactical tweaks, Diaz’s pace and Afful’s relentlessness gave FC Cincy defenders fits.

Gyasi’s slump-shaking day

Zardes struggled in front of goal, missing several chances to change the game from inside the six-yard box against FC Cincinnati at MAPFRE Stadium two weeks ago and against Toronto last week. He broke out big on Sunday with a brace to break the game wide open. His first goal came off a driving run down the heart of the FC Cincy defense to finish one time. He started the the second goal with a pass before finishing with an excellent touch. Zardes nearly grabbed his hat trick in the 86th minute, but dragged a shot wide.

Zardes has been a streaky scorer. His two in this match brings his total to 11 on the year. He probably won’t reach last season’s 19, but he’s once again in the league’s top 10 in goal scored.

What’s Next

With the win, Columbus moves to 8-15-6 on the year with 30 points. The team remains seven points outside the playoff places, however. The Crew head back up I-71 to MAPFRE Stadium and host the Chicago Fire on Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. ET.