Crew to open 2009 season in Houston

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The MLS Cup Champion Columbus Crew announced Tuesday that the club will kick off its 14th Major League Soccer season on Saturday, March 21, 2009 at Western Conference-power Houston at 8 p.m. (ET) on Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Sports en Espanol. The Crew will then host its 2009 home opener the following week, on Saturday, March 28, vs. Eastern Conference-rival Toronto FC in the first leg of the second annual Trillium Cup competition. The rematch of the Crew's 2008 home opener is scheduled to kick off at 4 p.m.

Real Salt Lake, the only club that is not in action during First Kick weekend, will host the Crew in its home opener in Week 3. Rio Tinto Stadium will open its doors to the defending champs April 2 on ESPN2 Primetime Thursday and ESPN Deportes at 9 p.m. ET.

The complete 2009 league schedule has not yet been finalized and will be released by early February 2009, but each team will play a 30-game regular season. Of the 15 teams that will compete in 2009, seven will be in the Eastern Conference and eight will be in the Western Conference, where Seattle Sounders FC is the newest addition. Each team will play every other MLS team home and away, for a base of 28 games. Two additional games against intra-conference rivals will complete each team's 30-game schedule. The regular season ends on Oct. 25.

Crew Soccer Nation memberships - season ticket packages - are available at the Columbus Crew Ticket Center or by calling 614-447-CREW.

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