Hell Is Real Derby

Hell Is Real Derby, also known as the Ohio Derby, is a rivalry between the two Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs based in Ohio; Columbus Crew SC and FC Cincinnati. The series occurs twice a year in league play, with each team hosting one match.

Hell Is Real Derby
Other namesOhio Derby
First meetingJune 14, 2017
Latest meetingAugust 25, 2019
Next meetingTBD
Meetings total3
Top scorerGyasi Zardes (CLB)
(3 goals)
All-time series1–1–1
Largest victoryCLB 3–1 FCC
Columbus Crew SC
FC Cincinnati
Location of the two teams in Ohio


On June 15, 1994, MLS announced that Columbus, Ohio would be home to one of the ten founding members of the new top-flight North American professional soccer league. Twenty-four years later, on May 29, 2018, MLS announced that Cincinnati would join the league in 2019 as an expansion team under the same name as their United Soccer League club, thus creating the first local soccer derby in Ohio.[1] Not long after FC Cincinnati's announcement, the derby was almost gone before it had the chance to start.[2][3] In October 2017, Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt threatened that he might move the team to Austin, Texas due to a lack of support in Columbus.[4] Precourt's proposed relocation sparked outrage in the American soccer community, creating the "#SaveTheCrew" movement. After a year of support by fans, rival teams,[5] local businesses, and politicians, the Crew were officially saved in November 2018, when the Haslam family (owners of the NFL's Cleveland Browns, which had been the subject of an even more controversial relocation in the 1990s) purchased the club.[6]


The two teams met for the first time in the 2017 U.S. Open Cup, while FC Cincinnati was still a member of the United Soccer League. Cincinnati would go on to win the match; knocking Columbus out of the tournament and advancing to the quarter-finals.[7][8] On August 10, 2019, the two sides played against each other for the first time in Major League Soccer league play, ending in a 2–2 draw at Mapfre Stadium.[9]


The derby's name was created by fans of both teams in 2017, prior to their first competitive meeting in the U.S. Open Cup. It is derived from a religious sign that reads "Hell Is Real" and is located on Interstate 71, which connects Columbus and Cincinnati–a distance of 110 miles (180 km).[10] The sign was installed in 2004 on a local farm in Chenoweth by a Kentucky developer who had installed similar religious signs in other states.[11]

Match results

  Columbus Crew win   FC Cincinnati win   Draw

No. Date Competition Venue Home team Score Away team Goalscorers Attendance
1. June 14, 2017[12] U.S. Open Cup Nippert Stadium FC Cincinnati 1–0 Columbus Crew SC (H) Fall
2. August 10, 2019[9] MLS Mapfre Stadium Columbus Crew SC 2–2 FC Cincinnati (H) Zardes, Santos
(A) Mattocks, Ledesma
3. August 25, 2019[13] Nippert Stadium FC Cincinnati 1–3 Columbus Crew SC (H) Manneh
(A) Zardes (2), Díaz


Matches CLB Wins CLB Goals Draws FCC Wins FCC Goals
Major League Soccer 215103
U.S. Open Cup 100011
Total 315114

Top goalscorers

Position Name Team Goals
1 Gyasi Zardes Columbus Crew 3
2 Luis Díaz Columbus Crew 1
Pedro Santos
Djiby Fall FC Cincinnati
Emmanuel Ledesma
Kekuta Manneh
Darren Mattocks

Players who played for both clubs

Player Columbus career Cincinnati career
Span Apps Goals Span Apps Goals
Cristian Martínez[lower-alpha 1] 2016–2018 31 3 2017 1 0
Kekuta Manneh[14] 2017 19 4 2019–present 25 4
  1. Martínez played for FC Cincinnati in the United Soccer League, before they joined MLS.

See also


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