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Massive Predictions: Crew vs. FC Cincinnati

How do we think the Black & Gold’s first game back will go?

FC Cincinnati v New York Red Bulls Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Columbus Crew SC returns to play after over a four-month coronavirus delay. This takes place in the newly created MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, Florida. The Black & Gold open group play against Hell is Real rivals, FC Cincinnati.

While it’s been so long since we’ve seen any Major League Soccer teams play and there were only two games before the break due to the pandemic, the Massive Report staff gave a crack at predicting how this all-Ohio affair will play out in Florida.

Andrew Atkins

The Crew hasn’t lost this season, FC Cincinnati hasn’t won this season. I don’t see that changing Saturday. Despite strong showings in the opening weeks of the season, Columbus is still being overlooked by many. Winning the MLS is Back Tournament is a perfect way to rectify that situation.
Columbus Crew 2 FC Cincinnati 0

Guilherme Torres

The Crew will have to start its MLS is Back Tournament campaign at full pace already as the team will debut in a rivalry match. I expect both teams to be rusty because of the long break, but I believe the Black & Gold will have an advantage for having a more established team and due to the fact that FC Cincinnati’s star striker, Jurgen Locadia, will be sidelined. I’m not confident we’ll see a ton of goals, but hopefully one will be enough for Columbus to secure a victory in the team’s debut.
Columbus Crew 1 FC Cincinnati 0

Nick Hudak

Despite the circumstances of the MLS is Back Tournament, FC Cincinnati is still FC Cincinnati and the Black & Gold are still the Black & Gold. This fixture should be pretty cut and dry.

The Crew is the type of team that is so tactically fluid that they can play their game without the presence of an audience. On the other hand, expect FC Cincinnati to struggle in a tournament like this where 40,000-plus fans that normally humble Nippert Stadium will be unable to push the team on, especially if the game is two-sided going down the stretch.
Columbus Crew SC 3 FC Cincinnati 1

Drew Niccum

Hell is Real returns and I don’t see any other outcome besides a Crew victory. Cincinnati is a weak team and had very little time with new head coach Jaap Stam. This is an ideal first matchup that will give Columbus the chance to set the tone for the tournament with an early win. Even if the Crew start off slow —a big possibility thanks to the time off and the Hellish weather — the gap is just too big between these teams. Goals will come from Gyasi Zardes and Lucas Zelarayan.
Columbus Crew 2 FC Cincinnati 0

Thomas Babcock

Well MLS is vack and Hell is Real (and I’m not just talking about the heat and humidity in Orlando) as as the Black & Gold take on FC Cincinnati in the first Group E game for Columbus of the MLS is Back Tournament.

While there have been early concerns about Columbus with one player testing positive, I expect that to be put to the side and not affect the match’s outcome. Simply put, the Crew is better and has more depth at pretty much every position. I expect Columbus to start off quickly and to wear down Cincinnati. While the Crew show some rust and miss some obvious chances (as Gyasi Zardes seems to do once every game) I predict the Black & Gold to come out on top and kick off their tournament with a victory.
Columbus Crew 2 FC Cincinnati 0

Patrick Murphy

There are so many questions heading into the Crew’s first MLS is Back Tournament game. How fit and healthy are the players? How much effort will teams put into these games? Does Cincinnati yet know what new head coach Jaap Stam looks like?

In all seriousness, this is a tough one to call because you don’t know what teams will look like coming off over four months off. I believe the Crew has handled the break well and will be ready, but it’s hard to prepare for a team with a new head coach and not even preseason film to watch. With that said, the Black & Gold are the better side and will prove it in this one. But it may not be pretty.
Columbus Crew 2 FC Cincinnati 0

Dave Hageman

This whole thing is a crapshoot and anyone who claims that they know what’s going to happen is full of shit. Except me. Actually, I just flipped a coin and it came up with the Crew with copious amounts of sweat.
Columbus Crew 1 FC Cincinnati 0

Jay Homan

Not the Hell Is Real Derby everyone expected this season, 1,000 miles away from home, in high heat and with an abnormal kickoff time. Both teams will be raw in the first match back after a four-month break. The teams that most often prevail in episodes of unfamiliarity and unpredictability are those who have great team chemistry. The Crew may not have the best chemistry in the tournament, but with Caleb Porter returning for his second season and a core group of seven or right guys returning with him, I would expect their chemistry to be stronger than an FC Cincy squad who had a new coach arrive over the pandemic break.
Columbus Crew 2 FC Cincinnati 0

Abigail Hintz

I believe Columbus will take this game without much issue. This will be Cincinnati’s first game under new coach Jaap Stam, and the team was having a rocky start to the season already. They are going to need some time to figure things out, while I feel the Black & Gold know what they are capable of and will take far less time to get comfortable in this tournament. Not only that, but this is Hell is Real, as unconventional as it may be, and the Crew is going to take every advantage to capitalize on another chance to defeat its rivals.
Columbus Crew 2 FC Cincinnati 0

Collin Johnson

It’ll be Crewsmas all over again when the Crew takes on FC Cincinnati in Orlando. Columbus will have the luxury of fielding a nearly full-strength roster, if not totally full strength, in its first game in months. Meanwhile, Cincinnati hired a coach during the pandemic and will likely be without its biggest summer signing, Jurgen Locadia. The Black & Gold have had a full year-plus to get the hang of Caleb Porter’s system and should be firing on all cylinders. In my predictions, I predicted that FC Cincinnati won’t score any goals during this tournament and I stand by that. Columbus wins this one comfortably.
Columbus Crew 2 FC Cincinnati 0

Adam Miller

After four months without any game action, it is likely that both sides will be a bit rusty in this Hell is Real Derby. This match will be slow paced, especially in the beginning with both sides feeling each other out and attempting to dominate possession early. In the end, the Black & Gold have more quality overall and are able to come away winners with goals from Gyasi Zardes and Luis Diaz and Ohio is black and gold once more.
Columbus Crew 2 FC Cincinnati 0

Dave Lewis

The Crew has a better keeper, better defenders, a better midfield, better frontline players. The Black & Gold coach is more experienced. The only advantage FC Cincinnati has, well, I am not sure. This game should be hell for FC Cincy. The Crew shake off it rust quicker.
Columbus Crew 2 FC Cincinnati 0

Thomas Costello

If the Crew can bring out its home-opener starting 11, FC Cincinnati shouldn’t have much of a chance. FC Cincy is coming in with a new manager, brought in during the pandemic, and there isn’t any consistency with leadership, system or roster to speak of. The first half isn’t going to look pretty, as it’ll be like other leagues around the world’s early matches that looked like preseason contests. I expect the Crew to come out in the second half and score a couple goals. Gyasi Zardes and Luis Diaz will score and the club will leave the first game of the group with a clean sheet.
Columbus Crew 2 FC Cincinnati 0

Doug Hildreth

We are finally back! Logistical issues at the tournament aside, I am very exited to see the Black & Gold back in action! If the restart of other soccer leagues, like the Bundesliga and the English Premier League, are any indication, I expect a slightly slow start. Some of the cohesion issues we saw with this relatively new-to-each-other team at the beginning of the season may crop up at first. Thankfully, they get a relatively soft landing spot with FC Cincy. With a new coach (when they finally figure out what he looks like), Cincinnati should have even more cohesion issues. I expect to see a little more of the Lucas Zelarayan brilliance we saw in bits in the first two games shine.
Columbus Crew 2 FC Cincinnati 1

Derrick Smith

Crew fans, try something new for this game — sit on the other side of the couch. Get your neighbor to open up their windows so you each can make comments back and forth to one another. Grab an extension cord and move the TV onto your driveway, front yard or back alley and watch with a few friends at a good distance. This Hell is Real experience will be different than any other before in MLS history, but the result will still be the same - Crew Win.
Columbus Crew 2 FC Cincinnati 1

Jimmy Lentz

Hell Is Real rivals Columbus Crew and FC Cincinnati will collide late Saturday night at Orlando’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in a scrimmage-like atmosphere for the group stage of the MLS is Back Tournament. For Columbus, Gyasi Zardes, Lucas Zelarayan and Pedro Santos should provide enough offensive firepower to secure a win for the Black & Gold against a historically weak FC Cincinnati squad. Although, it probably won’t be a blowout victory for the Crew. At a minimum, brand new defensive-minded Cincinnati head coach Jaap Stam will at least have Cincy’s defense better organized to be slightly less porous than during past seasons.
Columbus Crew 2 FC Cincinnati 0

Orri Benatar

Games in MLS is Back have started off slowly so that one thing I am certain of is a game with not many chances or goals since these teams haven’t played in more than three months. Columbus has the better squad going into the late kickoff and the Crew should be the dominant team in what certainly will be the oddest Hell is Real chapter. It’ll be a simple, subtle, solid victory for the Black & Gold to put them in position to make the Round of 16.
Columbus Crew 1 FC Cincinnati 0

Patrick Guldan

This will be a ragged game. It counts in the standings, but there is less build up and training than a preseason game in January. Caleb Porter said the team is struggling through minor injuries and a player is sidelined with a positive COVID-19 test. The squad is deeper than past years, but they’ve played precious little together since the beginning of the season. The first 11 will be a mix of those who are healthy and sharp enough to play. The tournament will also change how the team plays. The games come quickly in Orlando heat. It’s not a recipe for crisp, possession-based soccer coupled with aggressive pressing.

The opponent is also an unknown. FC Cincinnati brought in several players to overhaul a poor roster, lost another coach, hired yet another one and had limited practice time — much like the Crew. Yuya Kubo, Jurgen Locadia and Siem de Jong have talent, but this is a squad with lots of holes and a new coach calling the shots. They haven’t been able to build continuity through games. Their response will be unpredictable. Can the new talent come together, like there were signs in March, or is the change too much to overcome in such unusual circumstances?

The Crew’s continuity and depth should give the team a solid edge on Saturday night, but there are no givens in the MLS is Back Tournament.
Columbus Crew 2 FC Cincinnati 1

Ralph Schudel

It’s incredible to think that we are back and playing soccer but after a 100-plus day layoff, MLS is Back.I don’t know what to expect of this game. It’s likely going to be a mixed bag as both teams return to competitive action for the first time since the layoff.

Expect FC Cincinnati to look unorganized as the team plays under their new head coach Japp Stam for the first time. If Columbus is to be successful in this match, the team need to remain calm on the ball, not play into the likely chaos that will ensue during this derby and be calm and crisp with its passing.

Either this game will be an intriguing 0-0 draw with a lot of fouls or Columbus comes out victorious with an impressive score line. It’ll likely be the latter. It’s difficult to imagine FC Cincy being organized and playing with purpose during the first match of this tournament.
Columbus Crew 2 FC Cincinnati 0