Pat Brennan, Cincinnati Enquirer Published 5:58 p.m. ET Aug. 9, 2019
Lindsay Patterson and Pat Brennan discuss the upcoming match between FC Cincinnati and Columbus Crew SC. Cincinnati Enquirer
“I love derbies, and I was busy all week with our own preparation of training sessions and getting to know everybody,” newly hired FC Cincinnati Head Coach Ron Jans said Friday morning.
It’s Jans’ first week on the job in Cincinnati and it’s been a bit of a whirlwind by his own admission.
Along the way, he managed to learn of Cincinnati’s next opponent, Columbus Crew SC, and the “Hell is Real” Derby they share.
“I learned about ‘Hell is Real,'” Jans said. “When there is hell, there must be heaven, and for us, we go over there to make it heaven.”
That quote was the walk-off line for his pre-match news conference Friday. It revealed he’s already been educated on the significance of the burgeoning rivalry match.
Many questions surround FC Cincinnati at this moment in its season.
Paradise won’t be easily attained by FC Cincinnati, which added Jans and two new players near the close of the secondary transfer window this week.
FC Cincinnati head coach Ron Jans discusses his first match in charge of the club against Columbus Crew SC. Cincinnati Enquirer
The acquisitions of wingers Joe Gyau and Derrick Etienne Jr., combined with a new head coach in an unfamiliar league and acquisitions of Andrew Gutman and Maikel van der Werff earlier in the window, make FC Cincinnati a bit of a wild card ahead of Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Mapfre Stadium.
One thing that’s certain is squad rotation. Jans said the three newest acquisitions – Gutman, Gyau and Etienne – would at least dress for the Columbus match and therefore dislodge three other players from the club’s dress list.
“It’s no secret,” Jans said of the new players’ inclusion for the Crew SC match.
FC Cincinnati has just 10 matches remaining to evaluate its new players, so they’re being integrated quickly.
This is all new to Gutman, who came to Cincinnati on loan from Scottish power Celtic FC, and Gyau, who has played for about the past decade in Germany.
Etienne has reasonable MLS experience from his time with the New York Red Bulls and is accustomed to rivalry matches.
“I’m fast. I’m tricky,” Etienne said. “I try to get as many goals and assists as possible and try to make an impact any way I can.”
The newness of FC Cincinnati’s recent additions could result in a kind of unpredictability, and therefore an element of surprise. Crew SC is well-aware of that.
“I think they are consistently consistent with how they play. It is a very talented group, to be honest, with players that can hurt you in many ways,” Columbus midfielder Wil Trapp told ColumbusCrewSC.com. “It can be disconnected, but it can also be dangerous because unexpected things can happen at any time.”
The rivalry is short on history. The teams have played one competitive match – a famous 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup game at Nippert Stadium – and two preseason games.
What the all-time series lacks in past encounters it compensates for with an immediate awareness from those involved of how much it matters to the two cities.
Fans have responded at the box office, too, and a sold-out Mapfre Stadium is expected for the occasion.
That’s after 30,160 attended the first-ever competitive match between the clubs in 2017.
Still salient? You bet. Everyone appears for “Hell is Real” to ignite.
“We know that this game means a lot,” Crew SC Head Coach Caleb Porter told the team’s website. “We are fighting for Columbus. We want to make a statement for our city.”
Within minutes after last week’s loss to Vancouver Whitecaps FC, FC Cincinnati captain Kendall Waston said the team had already turned the page and was looking ahead to Columbus.
“I think it’s a double-motivation,” Waston said of playing the club’s biggest rival. “Why? Because we know a lot of the fans are gonna go to Columbus and, today and weeks before, they’re sad, obviously, because we aren’t winning. We want to give them a win against Columbus. We deserve it as well.”
New FC Cincinnati head coach Ron Jans addressed media members ahead of the club’s Saturday match against rival Columbus Crew SC. Cincinnati Enquirer
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