COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Another chapter in the fairly new ‘Hell is Real’ rivalry will be written Sunday at Lower.com Field when the Columbus Crew play FC Cincinnati for the 10th time.
This year’s Crew-Cincinnati matches are bigger than ever before as Cincy is in the middle of the club’s best season while the Crew’s offense has been jolted by new striker Cucho Hernandez, who has three goals in his first two games for the club.
In the table, Columbus sits one point behind FCC in the middle of the Eastern Conference standings.
Cincy became the second Ohio MLS team in 2019 which ignited the passions of both fanbases in this now heated American soccer rivalry.
The name for the derby was made by fans in 2017 before the teams first played with origins stemming from a sign off I-71 between Columbus and Cincinnati that reads “Hell is Real.”
Here is a quick look back at the previous nine encounters in the Ohio derby:
June 14, 2017: FC Cincy 1-0 (U.S. Open Cup)
The first time the two clubs met was back when FC Cincinnati wasn’t even in MLS. Cincy upset the Crew in front of a massive crowd in the Queen City to advance to the round of 16 in the U.S. Open Cup.
August 10, 2019: Draw 2-2 (Historic Crew Stadium)
The first ‘Hell is Real’ with both clubs in MLS was in central Ohio back in the summer of 2019. After going down 2-0 at halftime, the Crew stormed back to draw with Pedro Santos’ thunderbolt equalizer sealing the point.
August 25, 2019: Crew 3-1 (Nippert Stadium)
The Black & Gold finally got a win in ‘Hell is Real’ as they took revenge at Nippert Stadium for the loss from two years prior. Two goals from Gyasi Zardes and a third from Luis Diaz proved enough for the victory.
July 11, 2020: Crew 4-0 (MLS is Back Tournament)
It took 11 months for the Crew and Cincy to play again as the two sides met at the MLS is Back Tournament in Florida after the COVID-19 pandemic paused the season for four months. Columbus dominated at the ESPN Complex with Lucas Zelarayan scoring his first of many memorable free kick goals for the Crew.
August 29, 2020: Draw 0-0 (Nippert Stadium)
A little over a month later, the teams re-met for what would be the second of four ‘Hell is Real’ matches in 2020, with the two Ohio clubs forced to play often to limit travel amidst the pandemic. Both teams scored as many goals in this draw as there were fans in the crowd: Zero.
September 6, 2020: Crew 3-0 (Historic Crew Stadium)
1,500 guests of the Crew and some media members were in attendance at Historic Crew Stadium for the return of ‘Hell is Real’ in Columbus. The Crew continued its dominance of the rivalry with a 3-0 win as Gyasi Zardes got his third brace against Cincinnati.
October 14, 2020: FC Cincy 2-1 (Nippert Stadium)
In the fourth and final Ohio derby match of 2020, FC Cincy got a much needed victory in front of an empty Nippert Stadium. A goal from Nick Hagglund early in the second half was enough to get FCC the three points against its rivals.
July 9, 2021: Draw 2-2 (TQL Stadium)
The 8th installment of ‘Hell is Real’ was a special one as a full crowd of fans returned for the Ohio derby at FCC’s new stadium in the West End of Cincinnati. Cincy could not hold on to a 2-0 lead they grabbed early as Lucas Zelarayan and rookie Miguel Berry brought the Crew back for the draw.
August 27, 2021: Crew 3-2 (Lower.com Field)
The most recent Ohio derby was a classic and the first at Lower.com Field in downtown Columbus. After the teams went into the tunnel tied at 1, Cincy took the lead in the 74th minute as the Crew were on the verge of losing its seventh straight game.
Miguel Berry emerged once again as the Black & Gold’s folk hero scoring two goals late off the bench to end the losing streak and send Columbus fans home thrilled with its fourth win over FCC.