Columbus happy with balanced schedule

Crew's heaviest stretch in April, bulk of home games on Saturdays

COLUMBUS, Ohio – For the past three seasons, the Crew hosted a game on the final Sunday of the regular season. It was always viewed as a luxury if playoff positioning was at stake because it was the last or second-to-last game on the league schedule.

But that won’t be the case this year as the Crew end the 34-game regular season on Saturday, Oct. 22, at Chicago.

The change was necessary because the All-American Quarter Horse Congress, a massive horse show that takes place at the state fairgrounds from Oct. 7-30, takes up much of the parking around Crew Stadium.

In years prior, Columbus had avoided going head-to-head with the event by playing the season finale around it.

This year, the Crew’s last home game of the season will be on Oct. 2 vs. D.C. United, against same team at which the Crew open the season on March 19.

“There was no way around not finishing with two games on the road,” Crew president Mark McCullers said. “It’s not ideal.”

The Crew will have an open weekend Oct. 8-9 before going to New England (Oct. 15), then Chicago. They also have open weekends July 9-10 and Sept. 3-4 as concessions to World Cup qualifying matches.

They open at home March 26 against New York – the first of 12 Saturdays along with the three Sunday and two Wednesday games at Crew Stadium. There is a stretch of four of five at home from Aug. 13 to Sept. 14 while the Crew play two straight on the road four times throughout the year.

“Overall I’m pretty pleased with [the schedule],” McCullers said. “It’s pretty balanced.

“We’re heavy in July [six games], but we have a bye week in there,” he added. “We don’t have as many Saturdays as we typically have. We prefer Saturdays, but if we’re not going to schedule games during World Cup qualifiers, that’s the tradeoff.”

One of the Sunday home games will be an 8 pm start on June 26 vs. Colorado. McCullers said the match will be a kickoff in Columbus to the Independence Day week because the Crew are at FC Dallas on July 2.

“It will be Red, White and Crew,” he said. “It’s starting at 8 because there will be fireworks after the game."

NO LOVE — McCullers is unhappy the Crew will not appear nationally on the ESPN networks, Galavisión or TeleFutura.

“It is disappointing and it’s frustrating considering we’ve been the best team the last three years and they don’t want us on ESPN at least once,” he said. “Television is driven by ratings and Columbus is a small market.”

ENGLISH COMING? — The Crew are looking to bring in a Premier League club for a friendly, but with the MLS All-Star Game on July 27 in Harrison, N.J., the only open dates appear to be July 9-10, before EPL teams start gearing up.

WAITING ON NEWS — McCullers said he has heard nothing about the Crew participating in SuperLiga this season.