Columbus Crew SC (9-3-4, 31 pts.) enters Wednesday's match with a 2-0-1 record against FC Cincinnati (3-10-4, 13 pts.) this season, highlighted by a perfect zero-goals allowed.
Of the seven total goals through the three previous meetings, striker Gyasi Zardes has accounted for four of those goals in less than 200 minutes of playing time.
In the Crew's most recent match vs. Montreal on Oct. 7, Zardes eclipsed the 10-goal mark for the third consecutive season as the Crew will continue to look for the striker with midfielder and second-leading goal scorer Lucas Zelarayan sidelined.
Against Cincinnati, the lopsided results are a glimpse into the kind of season FCC has had in 2020, as the club ranks last in Major League Soccer in goals (8), shots on target (46), and shot conversion rate (6.9 percent), in addition to a 59.7-percent save rate (24th overall).
Additionally, a lengthy injury report does not stand in FCC's favor ahead of Wednesday night:
FC Cincinnati Injury Report:
- OUT: Maikel van der Werff (D) - undisclosed injury
- OUT: Greg Garza (D) - undisclosed injury
- OUT: Przemyslaw Tyton (GK) - undisclosed injury
- OUT: Jurgen Locadia (F) - undisclosed injury
- OUT: Kendall Waston (D) - undisclosed injury
- OUT: Mathieu Deplagne (D) - undisclosed injury
That said, the Crew is without Darlington Nagbe and Lucas Zelarayan as the Black & Gold head back to Nippert Stadium on an 0-2-1 slump in search of their first win on an artificial surface this season, as Columbus remains 0-0-2 in that respect (@SEA, @CIN).
"I think what the guys are thinking about is that last game that we had on the road that we drew that we weren't happy about or satisfied with," said Head Coach Caleb Porter, referring to the August 29th draw vs. FCC.
Cincy enters Wednesday's match 0-1-4 at home this year, with all four of the draws ending nil-nil, including August 29's match vs. Crew SC. Additionally, FCC remains goalless in five straight matches following a 1-0 home loss to Toronto FC, their fourth consecutive defeat.
Cincinnati's willingness to sit back is well known, and with chances to break down that low-block being potentially few and far between, the Crew will look to capitalize on its top-10 shot conversion rate (17.45 percent).
Though the Black & Gold cannot clinch a postseason berth on Wednesday, a win vs. Cincinnati and a loss for both Nashville SC (10/14 @ HOU) & Inter Miami CF (10/14 vs. ATL) will go a long way towards potentially securing a 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs berth come Sunday at home vs. New York City FC.
Going into Wednesday's match, Porter expressed his confidence in the group to get the job done and get back on track as the regular-season comes to a close in less than four weeks.
"I think the guys are locked in. They know it's an important game, a really important game and I think we'll have a very good performance. I feel good about it."
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports Ohio & 97.1 FM The Fan.