This will be the fourth edition of the 'Hell Is Real Derby' this season and the third one hosted by FC Cincinnati in three months.
Columbus Crew's week 17 fixture was called off by the authorities after Crew SC confirmed two positive COVID-19 cases following Friday testing involving two operations staff members. Fortunately, no player tested positive but training has been suspended for a while.
FC Cincinnati's woes continued after they were beaten 1-0 at home by Eastern Conference leaders Toronto FC on Monday to inflict a fourth straight loss on the Ohio-based club.
FC Cincinnati vs Columbus Crew SC Head-to-Head
Columbus Crew are the most familiar opponents for FC Cincinnati in the MLS and have already faced their state rivals six times in their two-year stay in the MLS. Cincinnati are winless against Crew in MLS fixtures and their only win in the six meetings came back in 2017 in a US Open Cup fixture.
Crew have won three of their last five encounters, scoring 11 goals in that period while the remaining two games ended in a stalemate. Cincinnati are goalless against Crew in their last three games. In terms of form, Crew have fared slightly better than their rivals, though they have lost their place as Eastern Conference leaders in recent weeks.
FC Cincinnati form guide: W-D-L-L-L
Columbus Crew SC form guide: W-W-L-D-L
FC Cincinnati vs Columbus Crew SC Team News
Injuries continue to mount for FC Cincinnati this season and what's worse is that players who have recovered from injuries are struggling to keep themselves match fit, possibly due to a busy schedule.
Manager Jaap Stam will be without Greg Garza and Jurgen Locadia who are dealing with lingering injuries, while captain Kendall Waston picked up an injury this week in training. Tom Pettersson is unavailable with an illness.
To fill in for Locadia's absence, the club have signed Croatian attacker Franko Kovačević from TSG Hoffenheim and he should make the squad, at least on the bench against Crew.
Injuries: Tom Pettersson (illness), Greg Garza (undisclosed), Jurgen Locadia (muscle), Kendall Waston (undisclosed)
Columbus Crew have seen a dip in form in recent encounters and that's because of injuries to key players including club record-signing Lucas Zelarayan and goalkeeper Eloy Room. Lucas is probably out for the next two weeks while Room's injury is not described as serious but still, he's a major doubt for the game.
Vito Wormgoor is a long-term absentee after his ankle surgery back in July while Darlington Nagbe and Waylon Francis also remain on the injured list. Fatai Alashe is a doubt for the game as he was not named in the squad against Montreal while Fernando Adi made an appearance from the bench after missing three games.
Injuries: Lucas Zelarayan (hamstring), Eloy Room (undisclosed), Vito Wormgoor (ankle), Darlington Nagbe (knee), Waylon Francis (undisclosed)
Doubtful: Fatai Alashe
FC Cincinnati vs Columbus Crew SC Predicted XI
FC Cincinnati Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Spencer Richey; Nick Hagglund, Maikel van der Werff, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Andrew Gutman; Frankie Amaya, Haris Medunjanin; Joe Gyau, Allan Cruz, Yuya Kubo; Brandon Vazquez
Columbus Crew SC predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Andrew Tarbell; Milton Valenzuela, Josh Williams, Jonathan, Harrison Afful; Artur, Aidan Morris; Pedro Santos, Luis Espinoza, Youness Mokhtar; Gyasi Zardes
FC Cincinnati vs Columbus Crew SC Prediction
FC Cincinnati head into the home game having not found the back of the net in their last five outings, leading to four straight defeats. They are the lowest-scoring team in the league this season with just eight goals. This fixture will be their third game in 10 days, thus fatigue will play a part which can put further pressure on the already injury-prone squad.
Columbus Crew had their away trip to Orlando City rescheduled and thus will have four more days to train and prepare for the game. They have a good record against their rivals and, given their current form, should make quick work of the 13th-placed side in the Eastern Conference.
Prediction: FC Cincinnati 0-1 Columbus Crew SC