FC Cincinnati 2

PREVIEW | FC Cincinnati 2 host Columbus Crew 2 in final home match of the 2023 season

20230604 FCC2vsPHIii Match 383

FC Cincinnati 2 will play their final home match of the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season this Sunday, September 17 against Columbus Crew 2 at Scudamore Field at NKU Soccer Stadium. The in-state rivals are set for their third meeting of the year with two matches remaining in the regular season.

The match kicks off at 6 p.m. ET and can be streamed live on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV App.


Keep up with all things FC Cincinnati 2 @FCCincinnati2 on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

Sunday’s meeting will be the sixth all-time meeting between the two Ohio clubs and third of the 2023 season. Cincinnati have yet to pick up a regulation win in the series and are 0-4-1 against Columbus.

Columbus defended their home field in a 5-1 win against Cincinnati on August 19. Noah Fuson opened the scoring for the hosts in the 10th minute before Arquimides Ordoñez equalized just two minutes later with his ninth goal of the year. Crew 2 would net three more times in the first half to take a 4-1 halftime lead. Anges Patrick Kader Bohui ended the scoring on the night for Columbus’ fifth in the 66th minute.

Columbus Crew 2 clinched a playoff berth by winning the Central Division Title after New England Revolution and Orlando City B played to a 1-1 draw on September 7. The defending MLS NEXT Pro champions enter the weekend following a 5-2 home loss against New York City FC II and will look to bounce back against Cincinnati as they close out their regular season slate of games.

The Columbus attack continues to roll behind Gibran Rayo who has scored five goals over his last five appearances for Crew 2, including a hat trick against Inter Miami CF II on September 3. Rayo’s recent form sees the forward take a team lead in goals scored (10) and shots on target (24) while converting on nearly 30 percent of his shot attempts. It is the second consecutive season that Rayo has hit double digit goals in MLS NEXT Pro (13; 2022).

Crew 2 are still in search of their 2022 defensive form where they allowed a league-low 22 goals in 24 regular season games. Columbus are allowing nearly 2.5 goals per match in their last nine and conceded five or more goals in three of those matches. Despite those numbers, Crew 2 have kept nine shutouts this season, tied for the second most in MLS NEXT Pro.

ACADEMY DEBUTS – FC Cincinnati Academy defender Ryan Belal and midfielder Connor Stout made their MLS NEXT Pro debuts Sunday night against Inter Miami CF II. Stout played 25 minutes, coming on as a second-half substitute while Belal logged 19 minutes. 12 current FC Cincinnati Academy players have featured for FC Cincinnati 2 during the 2023 season.

LEADING THE LINE – Ben Stitz continues to lead the FC Cincinnati 2 attack as the season draws to a close. Stitz has made five straight starts for the Orange and Blue up front and his seven goals is second behind only Arquimides Ordoñez (nine) for a team lead. Stitz has scored two goals in his last five.

TWO TO GO – Sunday’s match against Columbus will be FC Cincinnati 2’s last home game of the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season. The Orange and Blue are 6-5-2 at home this year and picked up a 2-0 win against New York City FC II in their last home match at the end of August. FC Cincinnati 2 close out the year on the road against Orlando City B on September 24.

WIN AGAINST A RIVAL – FC Cincinnati 2 have the chance to pick up their first win against their in-state rival when Crew 2 make the quick trip down I-71. The Orange and Blue earned a shootout win against Columbus in 2022 at TQL Stadium following a 3-3 draw but have yet to take three points from any match in the series.

MORE SAVES – Paul Walters’ four saves against Inter Miami CF II on Sunday night sees the FC Cincinnati goalkeeper hit 70 saves for the season. Walters ranks fifth league-wide in saves made and holds the second highest saves per match total (4.11) among the top five in that category.