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Massive Predictions: Crew vs. FC Cincinnati

How will the third Hell is Real Derby of the year play out?

Columbus Crew SC v FC Cincinnati Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

For the second time in just over a week, Columbus Crew SC and FC Cincinnati will meet in a Major League Soccer regular season match. The third Hell is Real Derby of 2020 takes place on Sunday evening at MAPFRE Stadium and after last week’s 0-0 draw, Crew fans are hoping for a more entertaining game this time around.

We asked the Massive Report staff to give their predictions for this game. Here’s how they think the game will play out:

Nick Hudak

Is there ever a more opportune time for the Crew to maintain a Supporters’ Shield lead than when Hell is Real is involved? At the moment, the short answer is no.

The locker room should feel extremely confident after having dealt with the Union all the while preparing for the team’s second consecutive home game.

The Columbus defensive unit is coming into form at the right time, conceding only two goals on the season and showing no signs of letting up. It’s an extremely low possibility to think about a scenario where Cincinnati comes out of MAPFRE Stadium with a result. The offensive firepower of Cincy just wont be able to stack up enough to get the job done.
Columbus Crew 2 FC Cincinnati 0

Patrick Guldan

Cincinnati has to come out and play sometime. Perhaps it’s optimism, especially after they parked the bus at home, but FC Cincy may want to start trying to win games rather than hoping for a tie. In a year where 10 teams make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, Cincinnati is a point from a playoff spot. If the visitors look to attack with more numbers, that opens up a few more chances for Columbus to attack without a packed defense in front of the goal. Cincinnati may have to come out of the low block to try and puncture the league’s best defense. The Crew have given up two goals all year. FC Dallas is next best at five, with two less games played.

For Columbus, the offense is showing signs of a revival that started as Lucas Zelarayan has returned to match sharpness after a month on the sidelines. The Black & Gold offense isn’t quite fluent yet. The Union’s defense in transition stifled the attack effectively on Wednesday, but the tools are there. Beyond a more fit Zelarayan, Youness Mokhtar also has two games at match speed under his belt. The winger adds craft in possession. Derrek Etienne Jr.’s form has been solid as he’s taken minutes from a struggling Luis Diaz. The offense would be greatly boosted by Pedro Santos finding his 2019 form, but he still adds exceptional defense.

The Crew, through Zelarayan, is rediscovering the ability to create chances in small spaces. With an early goal, the game opens up and the attack is ruthless in the open field. This should be a comfortable win in the third edition of Hell is Real.
Columbus Crew 2 FC Cincinnati 0

Jimmy Lentz

The trend line for the Crew against FC Cincinnati this summer is a 4--0 win followed by a 0-0 draw. In its third match within two months, Columbus will try to successfully break down the defensive block — and increased physical nature — of Jaap Stam’s FC Cincinnati in the midst of a 2020 recalibration.

If Lucas Zelarayan works in concert with Pedro Santos via playmaking responsibilities in and around central midfield, that will go a long way towards the Black & Gold opening up its final third offense against its Hell Is Real rival. In the midfield and the backline, Columbus will need to be relentlessly attentive and organized to disrupt quality, isolated chances by Cincy in order to reverse this short (yet noteworthy) trend line with Stam now in charge of FC Cincinnati.
Columbus Crew SC 1 FC Cincinnati 1

Drew Niccum

It’s only been a week since the Crew and FC Cincinnati last faced off, so I’m not expecting a huge swing in terms of the result. Jaap Stam has vastly improved the Cincinnati defense, and the Crew has struggled against teams that bunker down. That being said, Youness Mokhtar and Lucas Zelarayan should be coming back into form, both having played in the last two games since returning from injury. The creative spark from these two should be enough to push Columbus past Cincy this time.
Columbus Crew 1 FC Cincinnati 0

Jay Homan

At this point both the Crew and FC Cincinnati have to feel like they are in a Groundhog Day version of Dante’s Inferno with a third Hell is Real match in as many months. This match will be another defensive struggle for both clubs. Partly due to the outstanding defensive efforts both have put forth over the last couple of weeks, but also because of the large vacancy of a consistent scoring threat on both clubs. Will the small contingent of fans help push the Crew back into a scoring rhythm? Not likely, but it will be nice to hear authentic chanting again for the first time in months.

Columbus Crew 1 FC Cincinnati 0

Adam Miller

The Black & Gold finish off their two-game home stand against hated rivals FC Cincinnati in the Hell is Real Derby. This match closely follows the two Ohio sides matchup in Cincinnati just over a week ago. In the most recent matchup against FC Cincy, the Crew struggled to get much going offensively against Cincinnati’s preventative defensive system. One can likely assume that there will be more of the same from Cincinnati in this one as it seems the only way for them to stay in games.

However, Crew head coach Caleb Porter and company have no doubt spent a lot of time analyzing the previous Hell is Real Derby and will have some wrinkles to throw at the FC Cincy defense. In the end, it will be another slow-paced game that features few chances for both sides. However, the Crew will create enough chances to find the back of the net with goals from Gyasi Zardes and Lucas Zelarayan.
Columbus Crew 2 FC Cincinnati 0

Orri Benatar

The Crew offensively got its groove back in the second half against Philadelphia. Defensively the team has been in a groove for the entire calendar year of 2020. It’s Hell is Real in Columbus and the Black & Gold are motivated to beat their rivals in front of fans. They will come out of the gates fast to break down the Jaap Stam double-decker bus and should get all three points on Sunday.
Columbus Crew 2 FC Cincinnati 0

Thomas Costello

It’s going to be difficult to break through the FC Cincinnati defense. If the visitors bring its game plan from last weekend, Columbus will have another challenge. Coming off the Philadelphia Union victory, morale should be high. If the Crew brings a similar lineup, I see Gyasi Zardes scoring one for the Black & Gold and that being enough to secure the victory.

Columbus Crew 1 FC Cincinnati 0


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