FC Cincinnati historic season comes to an end, falls to Columbus Crew 3-2 in Eastern Conference Finals.

This evening Pat Noonan and FC Cincinnati saw their historic season come to a close after falling to Columbus Crew 3-2 in the MLS Eastern Conference Finals at TQL Stadium. As 25,513 fans packed TQL Stadium in support of FC Cincinnati in hopes of seeing the Orange nad blue clinch a spot for their first ever MLS Cup next weekend, 

Columbus thought otherwise and gave Cincinnati fans a real feeling of this Hell is real rivalry as many fans were left with an empty feeling in their stomachs after the Crew came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Orange and Blue 3-2 in extra time. 

Pat Noonan and FC Cincinnati have no reason to be ashamed of the outcome here this evening after everything the club accomplished this season as they brought home their first ever Supporters Sheild, Luchiano Acosta brought home the clubs first ever Landon Donovan MLS MVP Award, Matt Miazga brought home the clubs first ever MLS Defender of the Year award and much more. 

However, the Crew just proved to be the better team this evening as they dominated the time of possession making it really difficult for FC Cincinnati to build any momentum despite two early first half goals from Brandon Vazquez(14th) and Luchiano Acosta (45+). 

The Crew's high-powered offense netted three goals in the final 60 minutes of this one after Christain Ramirez came off the bench and provided an immediate spark for the Crew after forcing an own goal on his first shot attempt in the 75th minute sparked the late comeback effort for Columbus. Ramirez would then bury home the deciding goal of the match in the 115th minute of play to solidify the Crew's spot in next week's MLS Cup. 

The Crew dominated the time of possession as they controlled the point of attack for nearly 63% of the match. That would simply allow the Crew to create quite of bit of opportunities as they outshot FC Cincinnati 26-10 and with a high-powered offense like the Crew's it's hard to win matches when you allow that much pressure on the back end. 

However, as the orange and blue's season comes to an end this has been one for the record books and a season many fans won't forget for many reasons. Since joining the MLS just five years ago, FC Cincinnati has taken the MLS by storm the last two seasons despite finishing at the bottom of the standings in their first three seasons, Pat Noonan and company will continue to build off this historical season. 

How it Happened

The Crew came out firing early as Cucho Hernandez fired a left footed shot that was saved by a diving Roman Celentano in the second minute of the match. The Crew were really looking to control the pace in the opening moments of this one. However, that would quickly change in the 14th minute after Aaron Boupendza took advantage of the Columbus turnover and found Brandon Vazquez in the middle of the box, who laced a shot off his left foot that snuck by a diving Patrick Schulte to give the Orange and Blue an early 1-0 lead over the Crew. 

The Crew would then bring the pressure as they rattled off a flurry of shots on goal as they looked to avenge FC Cincinnati's early goal. The Orange and Blue's defense stood tall as the Crew held possession for 62% of the match through the first 25 minutes of play. 

The Crew's high-powered offense was looking to strike back following the early goal by Vazquez. The Crew were controlling the possession as they had plenty of opportunities in the opening minutes of the match as the Crew entered today leading the league in scoring. 

The Crew would continue to apply the pressure as Cucho Hernandez had a great opportunity to equal things up as hit shot right down the middle was saved by Ian Murphy resulting in the Columbus Corner kick. The Crew continued to look for Hernandez as he snuck into the middle of the box as he laced another shot on goal, but Roman Celantano had other plans as he came up with a huge save for FC Cincinnati. 

FC Cincinnati would extend their lead to 2-0 in the final seconds of stoppage time after Brandon Vazquez was knocked down inside the box to give FC Cincinnati a free kick. Alvaro Barreal dinked off the set piece to Lucho Acosta who laced a beautiful ball that found the left goal post and snuck by Patrick Schulte as FC Cincinnati extended their early lead. Acosta was named the Landon Donovan MLS MVP earlier this week, but he wanted to show everyone one more time why he deserved such honors with that beautiful goal.  

Despite the Crew holding possession for nearly 66% of the first half they just capitalize on their early opportunities in the first half after firing 11 shots attempts (4 on goal) compared to the Orange and Blue's five shot attempts. However, three of those were on goal and were the difference maker through the first half. 

However, the Crew has applied quite a bit of pressure on FC Cincinnati tonight, but could they find a way to come back after FC Cincinnati made a statement at both the beginning and end of the first half? 

 Columbus would dial it up a notch as they looked to bring the pressure to start the second half after Yaw Yeboah's right footed shot was saved by Roman Celentano in the 61st minute. Cucho Hernandez would fire his fourth shot of the match in the 65th minute that would be just off the mark for the Crew. 

The Crew would cut the lead in the 71st minute after Christain Ramirez was credited the goal after his shot was blocked by Celentano, which ricochets off of Alvas Powell for the own goal. The Crew would pour it on as they continued to prove why they are one of the most dangerous teams in all of Major League Soccer after a goal by Diego Rossi tied the match 2-2 in the 86th minute. 

Just like we have seen before this season we would head to extra time with all the momentum favoring the Crew after two second half goals. A dangerous sight for Pat Noonan and FC Cincinnati as the Crew continued to dominate the time of possession throughout the first 90 minutes as they outshot the Orange and Blue 18-10. 

Would it be a rivalry match if it didn't come down to the wire? Absolutely not, but this one has much more at stake with a trip to the MLS Cup hanging over the heads of 25,513 people at TQL Stadium. Could FC Cincinnati push through, or would the Crew complete the comeback? 

The Crew would continue and dominate the final third as they continued to apply heavy pressure on FC Cincinnati to start extra time but failed to convert on their early opportunities as this match would be tied 2-2 at the end of the first extra time periods. 

Columbus would continue to apply the pressure, but Roman Celentano continued to be a key reason FC Cincinnati was still alive in this match after a huge save in the 110th minute following the attack from Christain Ramirez. 

Ramirez would find the back of the net in the 115th minute off the assist from Cucho Hernandez to give the Crew a 3-2 lead in the final extra time period. FC Cincinnati was just gassed as the Crew wore them down after controlling the time of possession for most of the match. 

The final goal by Ramirez would be the dagger as the Crew would hold on and defeat FC Cincinnati 3-2 to advance to the MLS Cup next weekend. 

What's next for FC Cincinnati?

The Orange and Blue will now take some time to recover after their historic season that spanned nearly eight months but fell just short. However, the good news is, fans will get the opportunity to see MVP Lucho Acosta in a FC Cincinnati jersey through the 2026 season. However, this offseason will be a big one for the Orange and Blue after coming to agreement with Aaron Boupendza in the summer, he was a huge contributor for FC Cincinnati since arriving back in June. 

However, for fans there's no reason to be disappointed as the club accomplished so much throughout the season after bringing home their first ever supporters shield, bringing home three Prestigeous honors in Coach of the year (Pat Noonan), Defender of the year (Matt Miazga,) and MVP (Lucho Acosta). What FC Cincinnati did for this city and community over the last eight months has been incredible as they sold out nearly all of their home matches throughout the 2023 season, they really gave a lot of Cincinnati sports fans a lot of excitement as the Club continues to build over time after a historical season.  

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