COLUMBUS, Ohio – Columbus Crew hosted FC Cincinnati on Sunday evening for the final matchday of MLS Rivalry Week (which has been two weekends, but I digress). Cucho Hernández and Lucas Zelarayán versus Cincy without Lucho Acosta. Columbus trying to climb up the table with a new signing breathing life into their season. Cincy with their best year every by far.
Cucho Hernández shines again as Columbus Crew win Hell is Real Derby
Both teams had close calls in the first half. The visitors nearly struck first three minutes in. Brandon Vázquez found Álvaro Barreal at the back post but Eloy Room was there to make the save off the line. Columbus thought Steven Moreira earned a penalty in the 11th minute as John Nelson got a tug on his jersey as Moreira went in toward the goalkeeper. Nothing was called as Marcos de Oliveira called a tight game as the center official.
Cucho Hernández opened the scoring in the 16th minute on a set piece. Zelarayán found him on a set piece as the No. 9 attacked the ball and flicked it inside the back post. It was the fourth goal for the No. 9 in three games since joining the club.
Cincinnati had their moments but could not finish. Alan Cruz had a header blocked in the 33rd minute. Columbus opened things up on the counter, up a goal in the second half. Minutes into the half, Luis Díaz nearly got a ball from Cucho at the back post for a tap in. Substitute Arquimides Ordóñez had the best look of the second half from the run of play at the hour mark, but he could not get anything on it.
With the game in the balance, one of the stars for Columbus iced the game in the 86th minute. With Cincinnati in a fire fight in their own box, Zelarayán shot a ball off Obinna Nwobodo’s hand for a penalty. The No. 10 converted the PK and the match ended 2-0.
— The Crew (@ColumbusCrew) July 18, 2022
A game of moments: Cincinnati wasn’t terrible in this game. Their underlying numbers weren’t great. They were at their best in transition, but Columbus created more chances. Cucho converted on a great and low probability chance. Cincy didn’t have a really dangerous chance since the Cruz header.
Cucho is on fire, your defense is terrified: Three games. His first start. Four goals in 137 minutes. Cucho is exactly what Columbus wanted and needed in a striker and he’s arrived in time to make something out of this season. If this is what he’s going to produce in the long term, Caleb Porter has two aces up top.
Difference in form, and the table: Cincinnati is now winless in five, albeit with four draws going into this game. Columbus is now unbeaten in eight. What’s more the Crew jumped their instate rival in the table and are now sixth in the Eastern Conference. Porter isn’t satisfied, but they’re on the right track. Meanwhile, are the wheels falling off for FCC? It should be pointed out Lucho Acosta was suspended for this game.