When the halftime whistle chirped, Przemysław Tytoń clapped his hands and nodded in approval. FC Cincinnati had just kept their biggest rival – and the Eastern Conference’s best team – scoreless away from home. The goalkeeper was also 45 minutes away from a sixth clean sheet in eight league matches.
That optimism faded quickly, however, when Cincinnati conceded three goals in a 19-minute span to lose, 3-0, on Sunday night in the latest #HellisReal Derby match.
Here are the takeaways from the match at MAPFRE Stadium:
Promising first half erased by costly second half
The opening 45 minutes were even, as both teams created chances and at times threatened to open the scoring. Even when Columbus Crew SC pressed for a goal in the last few minutes, FCC remained calm and closed the half with confidence.
That changed after halftime, though, when costly defensive mistakes coupled with a lack of scoring chances led to Cincinnati conceding a 52nd-minute goal. When Gyasi Zardes entered the match, Crew SC added two more goals.
“Both goals happen with something that I think we could’ve prevented,” head coach Jaap Stam said of the opening two goals. “We know it’s a difficult game, but if we are giving away easy goals, then we make it very difficult to get back into the game … We couldn’t bring in the second half what we did in the first one. That also has to do with the disappointment of conceding those two goals.”
Captain Kendall Waston said the game was decided by mistakes that hurt Cincinnati.
“First half, especially, I think we did really good,” Waston said. “Second half, after their first goal, I think we were chasing the game, and we didn’t have many opportunities to come back or to make the equalizer. So, it was difficult. It was those types of games that little details cause the game, and like I said, it was a really difficult one today.”
FCC finish without a shot on target
The first time FC Cincinnati played Columbus Crew SC this season, Adrien Regattin was seconds away from scoring the Orange and Blue’s first goal of the MLS is Back Tournament. Once Regattin heard a pop and saw Vito Vormgoor hobbled down on the grass, the winger proceeded to kick the ball out for a goal kick.
It was a fine piece of sportsmanship – Regattin saw an opponent in pain and didn’t inflict further damage. (Later, Columbus announced Wormgoor broke his ankle.)
When Regattin kicked the ball out, FC Cincinnati had been dominating that match and the next scoring opportunity felt imminent. That was the last chance they created.
Fast forward to Sunday night’s match, when Yuya Kubo sent a delightful cross through the Columbus goal mouth to a sprinting Jürgen Locadia at the back post. Locadia was seconds away from a fourth-minute goal, stunning the Crew and breaking FCC’s goal drought.
But the ball came and went, and it felt like another chance would come soon. Thus, the same problem that first occurred in July is the one that lingers in early September: FCC create scoring chances that they aren’t finishing.
“Today, we weren’t creating those big chances,” Siem de Jong said. “We were too deep at times. Although the first half, I think we should have – if we had a little bit more composure – we could have created a few chances. I think we had like a few opportunities, but not enough today.
Before the derby match, Cincinnati had been creating scoring opportunities and were unlucky not to score in Wednesday’s scoreless draw against Chicago Fire FC. The same can be said for the scoreless derby match at Nippert Stadium.
But for all the clean sheets the team has generated, the goals haven’t reciprocated, and it’s costing the club points.
“I think we need to build forward on (the Chicago game), going a bit more forward as a team,” de Jong said. “That came down to execution. Today, it was more about creating those chances and I think we didn't do that well today.”
FCC’s last goal from open play came in the 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls in the MLS is Back Tournament group stage.
Columbus officially the dominant team in the rivalry
That’s a difficult statement to read and write, but it’s the current reality for FC Cincinnati.
Here’s how the last five meetings have gone between the clubs in MLS play:
FCC have zero wins, two draws and three losses. They’ve been outscored, 12-3.
After the Orange and Blue limited their former player Fanendo Adi to a forgetful first start since last July, Zardes entered the match in the 62nd and scored in the 64th. He added another goal in the 71st minute.
The USMNT forward now has seven goals against Cincinnati, including two braces.
Both teams sit on different sides of the Eastern Conference standings (first compared to 12th), but the gap between the team in derbies has been far too open since the 2-2 draw when they first met in league play last August. FCC even had a two-goal lead in that match.
What comes next
The Orange and Blue return to Red Bull Arena on Saturday to face New York City FC. Yes, NYCFC are playing in their rival’s stadium.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., and this will be the first meeting between the sides since last August, when Cincinnati lost, 4-1, at Nippert Stadium.
FCC played in Red Bull Arena earlier this year against the New York Red Bulls in the season opener on March 1.