FC Cincinnati fall to Columbus Crew in Hell is Real rivalry

Blue and Orange play home on Saturday September 7 vs Toronto FC

he season has not progressed as they would like in the standings but the fans in the blue and orange of have never wavered in their support of the fledging FC Cincinnati major league soccer team. Despite a 5-18-3 record and standing in last place in the East with 26 points, Nippert Stadium was 95 percent filled at kickoff with a sprinkling of the bumblebee colors of Columbus Crew. The announced attendance was 30,611. Eleven thousand more than when Columbus hosted the Hell is Real rivalry’s first game.

The two Ohio teams have dubbed their rivalry that for a billboard off of I-75 halfway between Cincinnati and Columbus declaring that Hell is Real. The two teams stand are in MLS purgatory which is the bottom of the East standings but the fervor on the field and the intensity in the stands at the start of the game would have led you to believe that it was a fight for a playoff spot.

A support system that has to make the first-year FC Cincinnati team hopeful and for the Reds and Bengals envious.

The teams faced off just 15 days ago in Columbus that ended in a 2-2 tie. Darren Mattocks and Emmanuel Ledesma scored the two goals for FC Cincinnati.

The yellow and gold got to roar first as Gyasi Zardes slipped a shot past goalie Przemyslaw Tyton in the 23rd minute for an early 1-0 lead for the Crew and they would have plenty to cheer for as the porous blue and orange defense would allow two more for a 3-0 halftime deficit. Zardes would score his second off of four first half shots with teammate Luis Diaz scoring his first of the season on his only shot of the half.

For FC Cincinnati, it was another scoreless half as they mustered five shots but were unable to connect on any as the Crew goalie only had to make a single save in the first half. They have been shutout eight times during the season with five coming consecutively in April and early May.

At the 56’ mark, Derrick Etienne tried to get the home team on the board but his shot forced the second goalie save of the night for Columbus. Shortly thereafter, it looked like they would be able to force pressure on the Crews’ goalie but after several passes inside, the pass outside for a shot went astray and the scoring chance was gone.

More scoring chances came but they were unable to connect with one in the net. Roland Lamah had a left-footed shot on the left side of the goal that was saved and Leonardo Bertone’s right footed shot from outside the box from a direct free kick sailed wide on the left side.

The blue and orange pressure continued as they earned a corner kick in the 64 minute but again were not able to connect.

A shot by Allan Cruz was deflected and goalie Eloy Room was able to somehow stop it. Cincy earned a corner kick in the 68’ that in which Kendall Waston headed but rolled just inches from the far post. Three minutes later a ball centered just missed the sliding foot from Lamah and sailed across the endline.

In the 77’, a free direct kick off the left foot of Ledesma sailed harmless high of the goal after Cruz had earned the free kick. Ledesma earned another shot at a free kick in the 79’ that found the head of teammate Allan Cruz but went far right of the goal.

The home faithful showed they were still in the game as the roared in displeasure in the 80’ when a foul was not called in the box.

Lamah possibly had the best scoring chance of the night as he stole the ball from the Crew defender in the left hand corner and dribbled point blank on the Crew goalie. He stood tall and stopped the shot and securing the shutout to that point.

In the 89” minute, Kekuta Manneh would score his fourth goal of the season at the end of regular play and a melee wouild ensue in the net of the Crew. The referee would only issue a single yellow card to each team.

With the fans of both teams roaring disapproval of each and every one of the referee’s call in the final few minutes, the game would come to a disappointing end for the home team. It would run the streak to seven matches when FC Cincinnati had last posted a victory.

The blue and orange have four more home games at Nippert in their inaugural season with the next scheduled at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 7 against Toronto FC. Their next game is on the road at FC Dallas on Saturday, August 31 at 8 p.m. on Star64.