CINCINNATI, Ohio — As sports begin to make a comeback, the two Ohio MLS teams will face off as part of the restart. 

What You Need To Know

  • The Hell is Real match between FC Cincinnati and the Columbus Crew will be on Saturday night at the MLS is Back Tournament

  • The game is the teams first match back since the pandemic

  • Players across the league have come together in solidarity during the tournament in support of the Black Lives Matter movement

​The wait is over for the Hell is Real match between FC Cincinnati and the Columbus Crew. While the circumstances may be a little different, players are looking forward to the rivalry game.

“When you play a game like that, when the whistle blows you go for it," FC Cincinnati midfielder Haris Medunjanin said. "So it doesn’t matter where you play, you play against your rival and you want to prove a point.”

“It’s great that we see an in-state rival," Geoff Tebbetts a board member with fan organization Die Innenstadt said. "It’s great that we get to face them first this tournament and maybe if we beat them we have some extra leverage to say that we are the best team in Ohio.”

Super fans like Tebbetts is bummed that he can’t see the game in person, but he understands the circumstances. He’s hopeful that the two teams and others across the MLS coming together for the MLS is Back Tournament will show a sense of unity while our country is so divided.

“There’s COVID going around, the whole Black Lives Matter thing, so I think there’s more of a sense of unity between the two sides," Tebbetts said. "But when the whistle blows it’s going to be Columbus verses Cincinnati.”

On the first night of the tournament, many Black players from several teams came together in solidarity of the Black Lives Matter Movement. 

“I think it was an outstanding thing for all of them to do, but I wish I could have been there right next to them and also had my hand up and showing the support of what the country is going though right now," Greg Garza Cincinnati FC defender said.

And while fans will have to watch the match from home this year, they’re still looking forward to cheering on their team.

“There’s going to be this sense of pride," Tebbetts said. "We’ve been waiting a long time through thick and then for this team to come through. All the people that are out there, all the players that we’ve supported, all the movements that they’ve stood for, it’s going to come to the surface and that’s something you can’t help but cheer for.”