While MLS continues its collective recognition to social and racial injustice issues within the United States, the “Hell is Real” rivalry is scheduled to resume.
Looking to bounce back from their first official defeat of 2020, the visiting Crew aim to remain undefeated against Cincinnati on Saturday night.
After five of the six scheduled MLS matches on Wednesday were boycotted due to the unrest and violence in the wake of the police shooting involving 29-year-old Jacob Blake from Kenosha, Wis., it appears the league will play this weekend. Columbus (5-1-1) and FCC (2-4-1) were not scheduled to play Wednesday, and at the moment, are a go for this contest.
That does not mean, at least for one of these teams, the message of those actions by their fellow pro athletes did not resonate.
“The players want to make it noted that this is not something that has gone away,” FCC winger Joseph-Clause Gyau told the club’s official website. “I definitely think it was important to bring awareness back to the issues at hand … I can’t really dictate what’s going to happen Saturday. As of now, we’re ready to play. We’re ready to get on schedule, but there are some larger issues at hand.”
Columbus, currently among the best players in the league, is 2-0-1 against its Ohio rival since FCC joined MLS in 2019. The Crew won 4-0 over Cincinnati at the “MLS is Back Tournament” last month, thanks to two goals from Gyasi Zardes (five goals) and a goal with an assist each from Lucas Zelarayan (three goals) and Youness Mokhtar.
The Crew, though, are looking to bounce back from their first non-“MLS is Back Tournament” knockout-round defeat, 1-0 at New York City FC from Monday.
While Monday marked the first time this season that Columbus was blanked in a game that counts toward the league standings, it was also the second time this year it’s conceded a goal.
“We have to learn from it, obviously,” coach Caleb Porter told the Crew’s official website. “It’s still a process, and we’ve been on a good run, obviously … We’ll use it to get better and we have to respond now in this next game versus our rival in a big match.”
Cincinnati also needs to rebound from a loss, 3-0 at Chicago earlier this week. It was the second straight contest since the resumption of the regular season in which FCC has failed to score. Cincinnati has been outscored 9-3 in those three matches versus Columbus.
“We have to continue fighting, and we have shown a better face,” FCC defender Kendall Waston said. “I believe in this team that we can jump back.”
Yuya Kubo’s two goals lead FCC this season.