A short trip down Interstate-71 saw the Columbus Crew on the road to in-state rival FC Cincinnati, who looked to extend the team’s 2023 home record to 8-0 this season. This edition of the Hell Is Real Derby went the way of the home side, as Cincinnati defeated the Crew 3-2 in a wild match
A very even first half through 15 minutes saw Columbus generate a couple solid opportunities, but the away side couldn’t convert anything on the offensive end. It was Cincinnati who broke the ice first in the 17th minute when forward Dominique Badji found midfielder Luciano Acosta waiting inside the penalty area to put the ball past Columbus goalkeeper Patrick Schulte to give the home side a 1-0 lead.
Things went from bad to worse from a Crew perspective when defender Philip Quinton took down Badji inside the penalty box, giving Cincinnati a penalty kicks and a golden opportunity to double the lead. Acosta converted the spot kick, making the score 2-0.
Cincinnati found the back of the net again in the 29th minute when Badji headed a ball down for fellow forward Brandon Vazquez who shot it home. However, the Black & Gold were saved by the offside flag.
Columbus had a good chance to pull within one goal in the 36th minute when playmaker Lucas Zelarayan found forward Cucho Hernandez on a run toward the six-yard box. The Designated Player’s header was an easy grab for Cincinnati goalkeeper Roman Celentano.
The Crew did score before halftime when Hernandez hit a low pass toward the center of the 18-yard box that found the foot of Zelarayan. The midfielder cut Cincinnati’s lead to one with an important finish.
Columbus equalized in the 53rd minute after Hernandez’s shot was saved after a service from wing back Mohamed Farsi. Celentanomade the save, only for the ball to bounce to the other wing back, Malte Amundsen, to hammer it in the back of the net.
In the 67th minute, the Black & Gold trailed yet again. This time, it came after Schulte had his pocket picked. Cincinnati Junior Moreno capitalized on the empty net, giving Cincinnati a 3-2 lead.
Columbus had multiple chances to pill lever after going down 3-2 but couldn’t find the necessary goal to get a point.
Columbus has a center back problem
It’s no secret that the Black & Gold are missing Milos Degenek and never replaced captain Jonathan Mensah. Gustavo Vallecilla and Philip Quinton have filled in well, but Vallecilla is a replacment-level defender and Quinton is in his second of professional soccer. Costly mistakes once again cost the Crew three points and the lack of center bacck depth showed.
Too aggressive Schulte
Head coach Wilfried Nancy has said multiple times he wants his player to play out of the back. And that starts with goalkeeper Patrick Schulte. However, Nancy also said that there needs to be a balance and Schulte made a mistake getting the ball taken off his foot and gifting Cincy a game that was the winner. This is the good and bad of playing a second-year pro goalkeeper in a rivalry game.
The Crew is on the road this coming Wednesday as the Black & Gold take on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the Round of 16 of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. You can catch the match on the CBS Golazo Network starting at 7 p.m. ET.
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