They call the Ohio Derby in Major League Soccer the ‘Hell is Real’ Derby, which is as original as it gets in MLS. It’s about to get real for FC Cincinnati and the Columbus Crew.
In a thrilling Eastern Conference semi-final on Saturday, FC Cincinnati ousted the Philadelphia Union, thanks to a last-minute goal from rookie defender Yerson Mosquera and four saves from goalkeeper Roman Celentano.
Mosquera, 22, scored his first MLS postseason goal in the dying minutes of the match, with assists from defender Ian Murphy and Álvaro Barreal.
Mosquera had two goals and one assist to his name during the regular season.
It was sweet revenge for their 1-0 defeat to Philadelphia in last season’s semi-final round. The Union would go on to lose to LAFC in one of the most dramatic MLS Cup finals we’ll ever see.
Celentano, who was a rookie last season, made three crucial saves in the second half for the Supporters’ Shield winners and overall top seed. He now has two career shutouts in two postseasons, both of which came this year.
Philadelphia’s goalkeeper Andre Blake made three of his five saves in the first half. Despite having a 5-0-1 record in their first six encounters with Cincinnati, Philadelphia has managed only one win, three draws, and two losses in their last six matches, including the postseason. Cincinnati’s three consecutive wins all came at home.
Cincinnati improves to a 6-2-5 home record in all competitions, following a 13-match winning streak.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, won six road matches in all competitions this season, one less than their club record of seven set last season.
This win sets up an all-Ohio Eastern Conference Final, where Cincinnati will host the Columbus Crew, who earlier on Saturday night blanked Orlando City in a surprise upset.
Tim Bezbatchenko’s Crew booked their place in the ECF thanks to extra time goals from Christian Ramirez and Cucho Hernandez.
Ramirez was brought on at the start of extra time and rewarded Crew manager Wilfried Nancy with a goal in the 93rd minute, by sliding to the goal line to connect with a cross from one-time CanMNT-eligible midfielder Aidan Morris.
Hernandez doubled Columbus’ lead in the 118th minute when Orlando’s goalkeeper Pedro Gallese was out of position trying to join Orlando’s desperate attack. Hernandez seized the opportunity and scored from the centre circle, marking his fourth goal of the playoffs.
Canadian Mo Farsi started and played all 90 minutes on Saturday, while CanMNT youngster Jacen Russell-Rowe – who saw the pitch Tuesday night at BMO Field in Canada’s 3-2 loss to Jamaica — was Nancy’s final substitution, coming on in the final minute of extra time for Hernandez.
Orlando were reduced to 10 men in the 77th minute when Rodrigo Schlegel received his second yellow card for pulling down Diego Rossi.
The win was Columbus’s first post-season victory on the road since 2002. Orlando had won six games in a row coming into Saturday night.