The Columbus fans will give the Crew a hero's welcome on Saturday afternoon.
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Weekly Update: Champs come home

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Columbus Crew will open its 2009 MLS home schedule this Saturday, March 28, as it hosts Toronto FC for First Kick 2009 at Crew Stadium. The match will also be the first leg of the 2009 Trillium Cup competition and will be the first opportunity for most fans to check out the defending MLS Cup champs in person.

The Trillium Cup, which refers to the official flower of the province of Ontario and official wildflower of the State of Ohio, is awarded annually to the winner of the season series between the geographic rivals. The Crew won the inaugural competition last season, going unbeaten in three games against the Reds (1-0-2).

First Kick 2009 festivities this Saturday at Crew Stadium will involve several features, including a commemorative coin giveaway. The coin, which celebrates the Crew's 2008 MLS Cup championship, will be distributed to fans upon exit, while supplies last. The Crew will also unveil new championship banners in the stadium's upper northeast corner and as part of its championship perks this season, the Crew will play with a special silver ball beginning this weekend and continuing throughout the season at Crew Stadium. Finally, a special Trillium Cup ceremony honoring the Crew will take place during halftime of the match.

Saturday's match, which kicks off at 4 p.m. ET, will be televised live locally on ONN-TV, with Dwight Burgess and Bill McDermott calling all the action. The game can also be heard in English on News/Talk 610 WTVN with Neil Sika and John Bluem behind the microphone and on-line at TheCrew.com and MLSNet.com, as well as in Spanish on La Que Buena 1550-AM, featuring Carlos Cordova and Benny Pietrangelo on the call.

Toronto enters the match after defeating Kansas City, 3-2, in its opening weekend match last Saturday (March 21). Defender Jim Brennan put Toronto in the lead late in the first half and Amado Guevara scored the first of two goals in the 53rd minute to double the Reds' lead, before K.C.'s Davy Arnaud tallied just two minutes later to halve Toronto's lead. Guevara followed by notching the eventual game-winner in the 62nd minute. The Wizards' Arnaud tried to rally the Wizards with a second goal in the 76th minute, but K.C. couldn't find the match equalizer before the final whistle.

The Black & Gold enters Saturday's match after drawing with Houston, 1-1, on the road last Saturday, in a match that featured the last three MLS Cup champions. After a first half in which neither side was able to draw first blood, Houston took the lead in the 53rd minute, when Chris Wondolowski sprung Brian Ching with a pass behind the Crew defense, which Ching poked home for his first goal of 2009. The Crew responded in the 82nd minute when rookie midfielder Alex Grendi sent a diagonal pass to second half substitute Jason Garey at the top of the box. Garey nodded the ball down to a wide open Guillermo Barros Schelotto who calmly slotted the ball inside the left post and into the back of the net to bring the Black & Gold even.

COLUMBUS CREW vs. Toronto FC
Saturday, March 28 - 4 p.m. (ET) at Crew Stadium
National Television: N/A; Regional Television: ONN-TV
Crew Radio: News/Talk 610 WTVN (English); La Que Buena 1550-AM (Spanish)
Crew Webcasts: TheCrew.com and MLSNet.com (English)

HEJDUK, MORENO AND OUGHTON RECEIVE CALL-UPS FOR NATIONAL TEAM DUTY
Crew defender Frankie Hejduk, forward Alejandro Moreno and midfielder Duncan Oughton have all received call-ups for their respective national teams in advance of upcoming FIFA match dates, and will miss the Crew's match vs. Toronto FC this Saturday. Hejduk will suit up for the United States at El Salvador on March 28 and against Trinidad & Tobago on April 1 in Nashville, Tenn. Moreno will join the Venezuelan national side as it takes on Argentina on March 28 in Buenos Aries and Colombia on March 31 in Puerto Ordaz. While Hejduk and Moreno will try to aid their teams to victories in World Cup Qualifying, Oughton will join the All Whites of New Zealand in Bangkok for two friendly matches, first against Thailand on March 28 and then against Thailand 'A' on April 1. New Zealand was originally scheduled to travel to Central Jakarta to take on Indonesia on April 1, but the match was cancelled because of security concerns.

CREW TO HOST KICK-OFF RALLY AND CREW SOCCER TOUR STOP THIS WEEK
In anticipation of First Kick 2009 this Saturday (March 28), the Crew will be hosting two more public events later this week. On Wednesday, March 25, the Crew will host a Kick-Off Rally at Arena Grand Movie Theatre from 7-9 p.m. where fans can meet and greet with the entire team. The following day, Thursday, March 26, the Crew Soccer Tour will visit Easton Towne Center, where select Crew players will be on hand to sign autographs from 6-8 p.m.

CREW RESERVES TO HOST UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE SUNDAY MORNING
The Crew reserve squad will play host to the University of Louisville in a friendly match this Sunday (March 29) at 10 a.m. at the Crew Training Facility at Obetz (4153 Alum Creek Drive). Former Crew midfielder Brian Maisonnueve currently serves as an assistant coach for the Cardinals. The match is free and open to the public.

CHECK OUT CREWXTRA WEDNESDAY TONIGHT AT 8 P.M. ON ONN-TV
CrewXtra, the Crew's new weekly show, airs every Wednesday at 8 p.m. (and again at 11 p.m.) on ONN-TV. This week, host Beau Bishop will be joined by Crew technical director Brian Bliss, 610 WTVN radio play-by-play man Neil Sika and Columbus Dispatch beat writer Shawn Mitchell. CrewXtra will provide viewers with in-depth coverage and access to the team every week, including game recaps, breakdowns and previews of the upcoming matches, while interspersing other news, interviews, discussion and interactive features.

SINGLE-GAME TICKETS ON SALE FOR 2009 CREW HOME SCHEDULE
Single-game tickets for the MLS Cup-Champion Crew's 2009 home schedule are on sale now at the Crew Stadium Box Office and all central Ohio Ticketmaster retail locations, via Ticketmaster phone at 800-745-3000 and on-line at TheCrew.com. The Crew's 2009 home schedule features a total of 11 Saturday games - including First Kick 2009, this Saturday, March 28, vs. Toronto - three Sunday matches and one Wednesday match. Another highlight is the Sept. 26 match vs. David Beckham and the LA Galaxy. Fans can also still become Crew Soccer Nation members by purchasing full-season ticket packages or partial plans, starting as low as $95 for 5-Packs. Group tickets are also available for all 15 home games. All ticket packages or plans are available through TheCrew.com and 614-447-CREW.

CREW SOCCER ACADEMY SQUADS TO HOST PAIR OF MATCHES THIS WEEKEND
The Crew Soccer Academy squads enjoyed last weekend off and will resume play in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy league this Saturday (March 28) and Sunday (March 29). On Saturday, both squads will take on CASA (Cleveland, OH) at the Crew Training Facility at Obetz (4153 Alum Creek Dr.), with the 15/16s playing at 1 p.m., followed by the 17/18s at 3 p.m. On Sunday, both teams take on Internationals (Cleveland, OH) as the action moves to Crew Stadium, where the 15/16 kick off the action at 10 a.m., followed by the 17/18s at 12 noon. All four matches are free and open to the public. The 15/16's record to-date is 5-2-4, while the 17/18s currently sit at 6-2-3 on the season.