March 2 marks Columbus Crew SC's 24th season in Major League Soccer. Beforehand, however, the Crew take on expansion side FC Cincinnati in the Carolina Challenge Cup as part of the clubs' first meeting as MLS rivals.
Albeit a preseason match - and a potential bid at Columbus' third straight Carolina Challenge Cup trophy - three points is three points, according to Crew defender Jonathan Mensah.
“I think every game is important,” the Ghanaian international said. “Whether it’s a preseason friendly, you have to go into the game wanting three points all the time, same attitude. I know the whole team is well prepared. We need to win. Beating them in the League would be a different story, but it’s important to get the momentum going with the last game of preseason.”
Cincinnati currently stands with four points, following by Columbus and Chicago with two each, and Charleston with one. Through five preseason matches in 2019, the Crew remains unbeaten at 2-0-3, including a 1-0-1 record against MLS teams with five total goals scored.
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The two clubs haven't even played a regular season MLS game yet, and players are preparing for what’s become one of MLS’s biggest natural rivalries.
“I think it’s one of the biggest natural rivalries in the MLS. It’s natural, even sometimes, like Montreal playing Toronto – they’re not even in the same state but they call it a rivalry. Obviously, it’s the Ohio derby, it’s gonna be great…when you see it in the newspapers, they come up with the ‘Hell is Real’ thing and we are ready for it.”
The match kicks off at 5 p.m. ET from MUSC Health Stadium in Charleston, S.C. For supporters in the Charleston area, tickets are available. The match will be live streamed at www.CharlestonBattery.com.
Those in the Central Ohio area can join other Black & Gold faithful at Old North Arcade for the official #HellisReal Watch Party.