Columbus Crew 2 put on a show on Sunday afternoon, shortly after the Black & Gold first team gave up a last-minute goal to draw with the Portland Timbers. Columbus beat FC Cincinnati 2 9-0, closing out the team’s inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season in style.
After Crew 2’s first game this year against Inter Miami II ended in a 2-0 loss, nobody would have thought the team would have the season it did. But after earning 16 victories in 24 matches, the Black & Gold finished atop the MLS NEXT Pro standings. Forward Jacen Russell-Rowe was also the league’s Golden Boot winner after scoring 21 goals, including four in this match.
It took a little while for Columbus to get going against Cincinnati but once the team did, they never looked back. FC Cincinnati went down to 10 men after defender David Garcia was shown a straight red card in the 20th minute. Eight minutes later, forward Noah Fuson broke the deadlock off a cross from fullback Jake Morris.
A mere 14 minutes later, Russell-Rowe got his first of the night, finishing a pass from midfielder Isaiah Parente. Just before halftime, Parente got a goal of his own off a cutback from defender Abdi Mohamed, giving Crew 2 a 3-0 lead at halftime.
The onslaught did not stop there.
Forward Coleman Gannon added the Black & Gold’s fourth goal of the afternoon in the 58th minute following a pass from defender Mohamed Farsi. Columbus then scored three goals in a 12-minute span, as Russell-Rowe added his second, and Farsi got in on the action.
Crew 2 ended the game with three goals in the final five minutes of the game. Farsi tallied his second of the match and Russell-Rowe added completed his four-goal effort.
Black & Gold goalkeeper Brady Scott earned his fifth clean sheet of the season in just nine games played this season.
With the win against FC Cincinnati 2, Columbus clinched the best record in MLS NEXT Pro at 16-3-5. Crew 2 ended the regular season atop multiple team categories, including leading the league with 62 goals scored and 49 assists.
The MLS NEXT Pro playoffs will go through Columbus and Historic Crew Stadium. With the Eastern Conference games officially done, the postseason field has been set. The Black & Gold will host Rochester New York FC in the Eastern Conference semifinals at Historic Crew Stadium on Saturday, September 24. The kickoff for that match is set for 3 p.m. ET.
This season, Rochester and the Crew 2 played twice, both ending in losses for the Black & Gold. The first matchup was a 4-0 thrashing from RNYFC, ending Columbus’ first seven-game winning streak of the year. The second match ended in a 0-0 draw, with Rochester earning the extra point in a penalty kick shootout.