It has been just over two years since the first time that FC Cincinnati and the Columbus Crew faced off in a competitive game, but tonight will mark the first time that the two Ohio sides will play each other in an MLS game. This time, MAPFRE Stadium will play host to the contest, after Cincinnati won the 2017 US Open Cup game between the two teams at Nippert Stadium.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 PM and will be streamed in the Cincinnati area on FloFC.
Cincinnati have had a rough go during their expansion season in Major League Soccer but are hopeful that recent changes might help guide the team back on course. This past week, the team announced that Dutch manager Ron Jans had taken over for interim manager, Yoann Damet.
In addition, FCC was busy during the transfer window that just came to a close. Before the end of the secondary transfer window, the club brought in winger Joe Gyau from Germany and Derrick Etienne Jr. on loan from the New York Red Bulls. Both of those players will take part in some fashion in the first MLS meeting between Cincinnati and Columbus, as will left back Andrew Gutman, who was brought in on loan from Scottish club Celtic.
Caleb Porter and the Crew themselves made several changes to their squad during the transfer window, most notably bringing in keeper Eloy Room to replace the recently departed Zack Steffen. Luis Diaz was brought in as a young DP from Costa Rica and has shown flashes already in limited time in MLS.
Neither team has quite had the season they hoped for in 2019, with both looking likely to miss the playoffs at the end of the season. But a win in a derby game will go a long way to handing fans a moment to remember, in the second competitive match between the two sides.
The first competitive game came back in 2017 when Cincinnati was in their second season playing in USL, the second division of men's soccer in the United States. The two sides were drawn against each other in the Fourth Round of the US Open Cup, at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. In front of a then-record crowd for a non-final cup game of over 30,000 fans, Cincinnati pulled the upset, beating the Crew 1-0, on their way to the semifinals of the annual cup competition.
It wasn't until May of 2018 that Cincinnati was confirmed as an MLS expansion side, but when they were, the two games against Columbus immediately became something to watch out for. The return leg of the rivalry is on August 25, during the MLS Rivalry Week.