Crew rally past Cincy in ET thriller to reach MLS Cup


Christian Ramirez's goal sends Columbus to MLS Final

Christian Ramirez scores in extra time to send the Columbus Crew to the MLS Final over FC Cincinnati.

Christian Ramirez scored in the 115th minute in extra time as the Columbus Crew rallied from a two-goal deficit to stun host FC Cincinnati 3-2 in the MLS Eastern Conference final on Saturday.

Columbus will host the MLS Cup title match next Saturday against the winner of the Western Conference final between Houston and Los Angeles FC.

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Ramirez, who scored the winner in extra time of a 2-0 win over Orlando City in the conference semifinal, was at the left post to knock in a headed pass from Cucho Hernandez.

Brandon Vazquez scored in the 14th minute to give FC Cincinnati an early lead. MLS MVP Luciano Acosta increased the lead to 2-0 in the third minute of first-half stoppage time from a set piece. But the Crew rallied as might be expected in the Hell Is Real Derby between the Ohio teams separated by 110 miles.

Christian Ramirez scored a dramatic winner for Columbus deep into extra time.
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An own goal by Alvas Powell trying to clear a cross by Crew midfielder Julian Gressel made it 2-1 in the 75th minute and Diego Rossi kicked in a loose ball off a scramble to tie it in the 86th minute.

Crew goalkeeper Patrick Schulte made an outstanding diving save on Aaron Boupendza in the 51st minute to keep the deficit at two.

FC Cincinnati won the Supporters' Shield for having the most points in MLS, two seasons after having the fewest. Columbus was the No. 3 seed and missed the playoffs the past two seasons after winning MLS Cup in 2020.

After the goal by Vazquez, the Crew dominated the rest of the half until FC Cincinnati got a free kick just outside the penalty area.

Alvaro Barreal tapped the ball to Acosta and he bent a strike over the wall and off the right post. Earlier, Vazquez provided Cincinnati the 1-0 lead from an assist by Boupendza after a turnover.

Cincinnati was without 2023 MLS Defender of the Year Matt Miazga, who served the first of a three-match ban for his conduct toward the officials after a Round One match against the New York Red Bulls.