FC Cincinnati and Columbus Crew played a highly entertaining affair, but it was FCC who came out on top by a score of 3-2 thanks to Lucho Acosta’s heroic effort.
The first half started inconsequentially, with both sides kind of feeling the other out, not really showing their full hand yet. Columbus was absolutely pressing FCC, but the home side didn’t budge. The passing seemed on point much like the midweek matchup with CF Montreal.
This continued for the first handful of minutes until the Crew really started to pile on the pressure. Lucas Zelarayan and Cucho Hernandez showed their chemistry rather well and looked up for the match. Gustavo Vallecilla, former FCC CB, also showed his quality going forward.
Then, FCC started to impose its will. Acosta was as on-point as he’s been all season in this period of the match. But the key player in the first half for FCC was Dominique Badji. Both of those two ended up being vital for FCC in this half.
FCC was the first to break the deadlock around the 17th minute. Badji picked up the ball following a pass and made a driving run to the end, after which he cut it back to a running Acosta he tapped it into the goal.
Badji’s imprint on the match continued, as only a few minutes later he received the ball once again, this time from Vazquez, and drove at Philip Quinton. Quinton then sloppily brought Badji down, leading to a penalty kick that Acosta easily slotted into the back of the net.
FCC almost put the game away with a third thanks to a wonderful strike from Vazquez outside the box, but Badji was offsides and the goal was disallowed. This disallowed seemed to be the turning point, as after it Columbus looked to get back into the matchup.
After this moment, the Crew got more into the game and aggressive going into challenges. This aggressive play led to Columbus starting to pressure FCC further up the field and directly led to the goal, as Cucho made a great driving run and then played the ball to Zelarayan, who easily hit it home.
FCC seemed to find it hard to get back into the matchup after this goal, with Columbus doing a great job pressing FCC and clogging up the passing lanes.
Following the beginning of the second half, Columbus seemed exactly the same as the end of the first, looking ready to equalize. FCC didn’t seem like they were going into a shell but also didn’t look like they were really going for it anymore.
This from FCC allowed Columbus to grow even more into the matchup, and so it was no surprise when the Crew did end up getting the second goal thanks to Malte Amundsen.
However, this did seem to light a fire under FCC, as it no longer had anything to protect. Because of this, the matchup became incredibly open, even more so than the first half.
At this point in the match, it seemed like whoever wanted it more would get the third goal first, and that ended up being FCC and Acosta. The FCC captain pressured Columbus GK Patrick Schulte who didn’t know what to do and lost the ball, which allowed FCC to pick it up and put it into the middle of the box, where Junior Moreno ended up with it and rocketed it into the net for the lead.
After this goal, FCC did have a little bit of pressure but Columbus had the vast majority of possession as they looked to equalize for a second time. FCC, however, didn’t really allow Columbus to get outstanding opportunities, making them hit crosses or take outside-the-box shots. Because of this, FCC was able to keep the lead going into stoppage time.
Columbus looked ready to equalize, had it not been for Roman Celentano making himself big and stopping a shot that seemed destined to head into the net. The match ended shortly after, in favor of the home side, netting FCC its eight-straight home victory.
Match 13 – FC Cincinnati vs Columbus Crew
TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
Result: FC Cincinnati 3, Columbus Crew 2
FC Cincinnati Starting XI:
Roman Celentano, Álvaro Barreal (Santiago Arias 90+5′), Yerson Mosquera, Matt Miazga, Nick Hagglund, Ray Gaddis (Alvas Powell 66′), Junior Moreno (Marco Angulo 90+5′), Obinna Nwobodo, Luciano Acosta (C)(Malik Pinto 85′), Brandon Vazquez, Dominique Badji (Yuya Kubo 66′)
Bench: Alec Kann, Joey Akpunonu, Ian Murphy, Isaiah Foster
Columbus Crew Starting XI
Patrick Schulte, Philip Quinton, Gustavo Vallecilla (Jacen Russel-Rowe 87′), Steven Moreira, Darlington Nagbe (Christian Ramirez 90+2′), Aidan Morris, Malte Amundsen (Jimmy Medranda 87′), Mohamed Farsi, Cucho Hernández, Lucas Zelarayán, Alexandru Matan
Bench: Evan Bush, Jake Morris, Maximilian Arfsten, Isaiah Parente, Sean Zawadski, Keegan Hughes
CIN – Matt Miazga 63’
COL – Malte Amundsen 72’
New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 23, Red Bull Arena (Harrison, New Jersey)