Pedro Santos scored the equalizing goal in the 62nd minute, and the Columbus Crew rallied from two goals down to draw with visiting FC Cincinnati 2-2 on Saturday night in the first MLS meeting between these Ohio foes.
Darren Mattocks and Emmanuel Ledesma each scored first-half goals to give Cincinnati (5-17-3, 18 points) a 2-0 lead. FCC halted a four-game losing streak in new coach Ron Jans' debut, but they appeared on the verge of extending the losing streak on multiple occasions.
Columbus (7-14-5, 26 points), meanwhile, is 2-0-3 over its last five matches but has work to do in order to move into playoff position in the Eastern Conference. Twice late, the Crew hit the frame of the goal and FCC goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton made a pair of brilliant saves to keep the match tied.
It was quite the show for this blossoming in-state rivalry that's become known as the "Hell is Real" derby. FC Cincinnati, then a member of the USL, beat the Crew during U.S. Open Cup play in 2017, but this was the one Ohio soccer fans have been anticipating.
Cincinnati, playing for its third manager during this expansion campaign, scored the in-state rivalry's first goal just 16 minutes in. A surprisingly unmarked Mattocks sent home an easy header of Victor Ulloa's corner kick for his third goal of 2019.
FCC wasn't done, though, as it took advantage of the Crew playing with 10 men while injured Artur was being tended to on the sideline. A simple cross from Roland Lamah in the 23rd minute managed to get through two Columbus defenders and on to the foot of Ledesma. The veteran had little trouble putting the ball past Columbus keeper Eloy Room for his fourth goal of the season.
The Crew spent much of the rest of the first half in Cincinnati's final third, and the club finally broke through when star Gyasi Zardes was awarded a penalty kick after he was fouled in the box by FCC's Maikel van der Werff. Zardes converted from the spot in the 45th minute for his ninth goal of the season to put Columbus back in the match before half.
After a relatively quiet first 15 minutes of the second half, Santos leveled the match with a sizzling strike from outside the box in the 62nd minute. It was a career-high eighth goal at any level for Santos.