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FC Cincinnati - Columbus Crew: Why is the Eastern Conference final in Cincinnati?

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Ohio is guaranteed to have a representative in this month’s MLS Cup final, as state rivals FC Cincinnati and Columbus Crew face off in the Eastern Conference final today.

The winners will take on either Houston Dynamo or Seattle Sounders in the league decider on Saturday 9 December.

Cincinnati seeking maiden MLS crown

Led by 2023 MVP Luciano Acosta, Cincinnati are chasing their first ever MLS championship in their fifth season in North American’s elite division.

The Orange and Blue booked their place in the conference decider by beating Philadelphia Union 1-0 in the Eastern semi-finals, Yerson Mosquera scoring a controversial late winner at TQL Stadium.

Columbus, meanwhile, are pursuing a third MLS title in franchise history, having previously been crowned champions in 2008 and 2020.

Wilfried Nancy’s men set up a clash with Cincinnati with a 2-0 victory over Orlando City, Christian Ramírez and Cucho Hernández grabbing the Crew’s goals in extra time in Florida.

Columbus had the upper hand in the most recent meeting between Cincinnati and the Crew, winning 3-0 in a 2023 regular-season match-up at Lower.com Field in August.

However, it was Cincinnati who finished higher in the standings: while Columbus headed into the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s No. 3 seed, ‘Cincy’ topped not only the Eastern Conference but the MLS-wide Supporters’ Shield standings.

Why are Cincinnati at home?

It’s precisely because of Cincinnati’s higher regular-season finish that they are at home in today’s Eastern Conference final. According to MLS rules, home-field advantage in each playoff tie goes to the team that performed better during the season’s league phase.

Having won the Supporters’ Shield to claim the overall No. 1 seed, Cincinnati have enjoyed home advantage throughout the playoffs and know the MLS Cup final will also be at TQL Stadium if they get there.

Meanwhile, the Crew are the away side today - but they ranked above both Houston and Seattle in the Supporters’ Shield standings, so will be the home team if they reach the championship Game.

Cincinnati vs Columbus Crew: when, where, how to watch?

FC Cincinnati host Columbus Crew today, Saturday 2 December 2023, with kick-off at TQL Stadium scheduled for 6pm ET/3pm PT.

You can watch the Game live on MLS Season Pass, a subscription service on the streaming platform Apple TV+.

Cincinnati vs Columbus Crew: live online with AS USA

You’ll also have the option of following live-text commentary of Cincinnati vs Columbus right here at AS USA. Will Gittins will be building up to the Game from about an hour ahead of kick-off, before talking you through the action.

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