Rivalries Focus Intensity and Open Old Wounds, But Clear Eyes Lead the Way Forward for FC Cincinnati Players Looking to Continuing Winning Streak

FC Cincinnati Announce Roster for 2023 Preseason

May 10, 2024 – Major League Soccer (MLS)
FC Cincinnati News Release

The last time Columbus Crew and FC Cincinnati met, it ended in heartbreak. “Another team celebrating on your home pitch, lifting a trophy meant to be yours, and marching on to live out the future you saw for yourself, all while abruptly having your season end,” has been the way some describe feeling after being in a car crash.

A sudden, abrupt halt in place.

But time has passed, and wounds have healed. Scars may remain, but the new year has brought new opportunities. The feeling of frustration may remain but now it fuels the fire for 2024.

It’s worth noting that the painful feeling would have been there regardless of the opponent. While the storytelling notes of the Hell is Real rivalry coming to the Eastern Conference Finals last December certainly color the story, the outcome would have left anyone feeling the sameDoes the opponent make the scars a little deeper? Maybe. But the scars would be there.

Now, on the visit back with Columbus, making the trip two hours Northeast to Lower.Com Field for 2024’s first playing of Hell is Real, the rivalry is renewed again, but the mindset heading into it is focused on the larger goals-not focusing on the past and trying to rewrite history.

“We’ve been training and playing with a lot of intensity. Columbus is a good team. We got to match their intensity,” Alvas Powell said about the weekend matchup. “You know they’ve got good, good, good players. So we have to focus more on ourselves because we still have not played our best yet.”

Rivalries typically live with the club and the supporters. While there is consistency between seasons in terms of players and coaches who take the field for either side, there is also massive turnover. In this case, only one player on either side has been with the clubs in all 13 playings of Hell is Real. That player, Nick Hagglund, wasn’t available for the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals and has only ever appeared in six of those matches. Yuya Kubo will become the most capped player in the history of the Darby should he appear Saturday and play in his 11th Hell is Real.

The preparation for such a game varies among players. There isn’t a stock way of preparing for a big game, which is (for what it’s worth) the general consensus among players regardless of how they play. The rivalry makes it a big game, but like other big games before it, preparation for those kinds of games requires more focus.

“It’s extra motivation,…

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