Hold on, before I'm attacked for besmirching our fine state, let me say that Ohio is my beloved home and a wonderful place to live and raise a family. It's definitely NOT Hell. But it feels like it for we soccer fans, and I'm not just talking about the heat.
It's rivalry week again for Ohio's MLS fans. "Hell is Real" is upon us once more. This evening, Fc Cincinnati (3-8-8) will face off against their Interstate 71 Rival in Columbus SC... er Fc Columbus? Whatever. The Match has 6:30 start time and will take place in Columbus at Lower stadium or "The Belt Buckle" as FCC fans have coined it.
The matchup as heated and intense as it may be, won't be featuring clubs that are showing good form as of late. Columbus (6-6-9), having come into the season looking like world beaters, have lost 6 straight matches. SIX... STRAIGHT... MATCHES. Frankly, it's shocking how disappointing Columbus has been. The roster is still stacked from top to bottom, but whether it be injuries or players gone of international duty, they have been a huge letdown this season. They currently sit at 9th in the East. It could be worse however, they could be FCC.
While Fc Cincinnati have been able to scatter their loses amongst draws, points wise they have been even worse. FCC actually has fewer loses than their rivals, but have only been able to muster 3 wins this season. They have been just an inch or two here or a lucky break there from at least a few more wins and perhaps a position around where Columbus sits. Unfortunately, this season has but full of frustrating loses and draws. Perhaps the most frustrating of these draws was the last "Hell is Real" matchup.
It was a match that FCC fans would like to forget. It started like a dream but ended a nightmare. Fc Cincy started hot and had a 2-0 lead by the 24th minute. Add to that, Columbus went a man down near the end of the first half. What followed the Red card was 2 unanswered goals by a 10 man Columbus team. It was a hair pulling result for FCC fans, and I'm sure for manager Jaap Stam. If he had any hair that is. What further fueled the fan's fury (how's that for alliteration?) was when manager Caleb Porter shushed the once deafening TQL stadium crowd after the match. That mocking gesture just stokes Hell's fire. It should make for a interesting match today.
What to expect
In truth, I have no idea what to expect. There truly is no way of knowing. As discussed, both teams have been struggling mightily, and both desperately need a win. While there is also no way of knowing how full Lower stadium will be due to recent struggles. Unlike TQL stadium that remains full every match even though it STILL hasn't hosted a win. While having home field advantage, and (no doubt) a belief that they will break the slide will help Columbus, they'll have to do so without several players. Columbus, will be without eight players due to injury on Friday, including goal scorer Gyasi Zardes. Unfortunately for FCC, they'll still have Lucus Zelarayan.
UGH... take a break dude. LOL.
Fc Cincy however should be able to put forward a more normal starting lineup. Goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer and defender/winger Joe Gyau are still out on injury. So all likelihood is that we'll see Tyton between the sticks and Florian Valot on the pitch. While Valot has looked solid, Tyton has looked a bit rusty since returning to the starting lineup. FCC hopes he can bounce back against Columbus. Personally, I hope to see less of "The Polish Eagle" choosing to launch the ball forward rather than finding his defender. Otherwise, the lineup should normal. Unless that is Jaap Stam chooses to rest some players........ NAH. Not likely.
Help On the Way?!
Finally, I'm happy to report that trustworthy journalist Laurel Pfahler queencitypress.com reported today that the club is finalizing a deal to sign midfielder and once FCC trialist Kyle Scott. FCC fans may remember that Scott was with the club during preseason. While on trial with the club, reports were that Scott was really impressing. Fan's were happy to enter the season with Kyle Scott teaming with Lucho Acosta in the midfield. However, in what was a shock and a disappointment, Scott declined an offer to sign with the club and instead chose to return to England and Newcastle United.
Fans however did not give up on signing Kyle Scott. Many were hoping the club would make another attempt at signing him during the summer transfer window. Fate, it seems was on our side. Scott, after returning to Newcastle, did not have his option picked up by the Premier league club. Thus making him a free agent and able to sign with FCC at any time. While it may take some time before seeing him in the lineup, hopefully given his time spent with the club, he will be able to hit the ground running. He should have fresh legs anyway. Something that Fc Cincinnati Sorely need.
By: Rob Burkhardt