In a continuing storyline that sounds too repetitive to be true, the Columbus Crew finds itse;f in yet another near must-win situation. Unfortunately, the Crew has not won a game in over a month. More devastating is the manner in which the Black & Gold have lost.
It is continually the same issues plaguing Columbus, including poor offensive output and frustrating defensive lapses, costing the Crew 18 incredibly valuable points. In the first ever Hell is Real Derby match in Lower.com Field, Columbus enters a game where anything but a win will not be tolerated.
After a heartbreaking, last-second loss on Saturday against the Seattle Sounders, the Black & Gold are firmly in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference. The Crew enters the derby game still without some key players as Artur, Milton Valenzuela, Perry Kitchen, Kevin Molino and Gyasi Zardes among others. Midfielder Lucas Zelarayan will be just back from the MLS All-Star Game festivities, so may experience some time limitation after playing 30 minutes Wednesday night.
Caleb Porter and his team have dug themselves into a fairly significant hole, and if the group has any ambition of defending its 2020 MLS Cup title, every missed opportunity is another step deeper into the hole. As the first Hell is Real Derby game at the team’s new stadium, this game is already rife with significance, the pressure only increases with the Crew’s postseason future added to the storyline.
The Black & Gold looked far more competent offensively on Saturday, taking a 1-0 lead into the 85th minute before conceding two heart-breaking goals in less than two minutes. If Columbus can continue to build on the offensive growth and try to shore up defensive issues, the Crew certainly can handle FC Cincinnati.
Columbus’ Interstate-71 rivals come in two points off the bottom of the Eastern Conference and in the midst of their own significant winless streak. An unstoppable force will meet an immovable object as both teams look to find victory for the first time in over a month.
How would you, the Supporters, set your starting lineup for the Hell is Real Derby? Can the Crew find more joy out of striker Miguel Berry? Is a shake-up on the backline necessary to be better defensively?
Vote below and we will publish the results, as well as a Massive Report Predicted XI before another must-win game on Friday. Hell is definitely Real, it is just a matter for whom.