Columbus Crew vs FC Cincinnati: MLS Preview: Predictions, team news, lineups, and more

The showdown known as the ‘Hell Is Real’ derby between the Columbus Crew and FC Cincinnati is set for Saturday evening at Field. This marks the teams' first encounter since the Black & Gold secured a thrilling 3-2 comeback ET win in last year's Eastern Conference final.
Dec 2, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA;  Columbus Crew forward Cucho Hernandez, left, forward Diego
Dec 2, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Columbus Crew forward Cucho Hernandez, left, forward Diego / Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Wilfried Nancy raised questions about imposing limits on his Columbus Crew team following their advancement to the CONCACAF Champions Cup final. After carrying a slim 2-1 lead into the second leg away match, Columbus impressively sealed their place in the final by defeating Monterrey 3-1. They will now face Pachuca in June for the title.

As they return their focus to domestic affairs following a well-deserved bye week, Nancy's men are gearing up to host FC Cincinnati this Saturday. Cincinnati, riding high on a wave of success with three consecutive MLS victories, currently sit second in the Eastern Conference, trailing league leaders Inter Miami by just three points and with a game in hand. Both teams are coming in hot and both, including their respective fans, want a statement win.

  • What day is the match? Saturday, May 11th, 2024
  • What time is kickoff? 7:45 pm (EST)
  • Where is it played? Field, here at Columbus, Ohio
  • How to watch/listen from home? FS1/Free to watch via MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app, La Grande 102.5 FM | Alt 105.7 FM | iHeart Radio app

Columbus Crew team news

Evan Bush and Mo Farsi are both set to miss the first Hell is Real fixture of the year on home soil as they recover from their injuries. Other than that, there are no suspensions to worry about at this point in time.

FC Cincinnati team news

Bret Halsey received a red card against Orlando City last week and is consequently suspended for this game. Additionally, Aaron Boupendza and Yamil Asad are sidelined due to injuries for this derby.

Predicted XI

Columbus Crew XI: Schulte; Moreira, Camacho, Amundsen; Zawadski, Morris, Nagbe, Yeboah; Matan, Rossi; Hernandez

FC Cincinnati XI: Celentano; Murphy, Miazga, Robinson; Orellano, Bucha, Nwobodo, Yedlin; Acosta, Kubo, Baird

Hell is Real score prediction

The Columbus versus Cincinnati showdown, dubbed the Hell is Real deeby, owes its name to the iconic billboard along I-71, a landmark encountered by both fan bases on their way to the opposing city. This nickname perfectly captures the intense atmosphere fans and players bring to the game. Lately, the rivalry has heated up, despite its relatively recent inception with FC Cincinnati's entry into the league in 2019. Fans and players have swiftly embraced the competition. Last season, the Crew held a 2-1 advantage over their in-state rivals on their journey to claiming the MLS Cup. With both clubs boasting star power and guided by exceptional leaders like Wilfried Nancy and Pat Noonan, this matchup has become a focal point for league pundits and fans alike.

Columbus has suffered just two defeats in their 13 all-time MLS encounters with Cincinnati, securing seven wins and four draws, with the last two victories being consecutive. They've managed to score multiple goals in 11 out of these 13 matches, with the streak extending to the last seven encounters, suggesting a high-scoring contest is likely. Furthermore, Columbus remains undefeated in 27 consecutive home matches across all competitions, a streak spanning over a year. This achievement places them among the elite in MLS history, with only two longer home unbeaten streaks recorded by any MLS club. With such impressive statistics, Columbus appears to be the favorites to secure victory on Saturday.

Considering the Crew's current top form, it's worth noting that the league table doesn't fully reflect their strength, as many recent MLS games for Columbus weren't top priority matches, leading to rotations in the lineup. With no midweek Champions Cup games to distract them and a full week of rest after last weekend's bye, the Crew are poised as clear favorites in this upcoming clash. A victory for the MLS Cup champions seems likely, and I’m predicting a 3-1 win for the Black & Gold.

What’s your score predictions?