Major League Soccer announced today the 2015 regular season schedule, giving fans something to get excited about despite the start of the year remaining three months away.
Let's take a look at some of the dates to circle on your calendar as you get set for the Black and Gold's 20th season.
Saturday March 14 - Toronto FC at Columbus Crew SC
Columbus opens the home slate of their schedule in the second game of the year as they renew the Trillium Cup rivalry with Toronto. Last year was just the second time in the seven-year history of the rivalry that Crew SC did not take home the trophy and they will have their chance to get off on the right foot early in the campaign.
In this contest, the Black and Gold put a 10-game unbeaten streak in home openers on the line. Their last lost to open Columbus Crew Stadium was in 2004 when the New York Red Bulls were victorious 3-1 on opening day.
Saturday April 11 - Columbus Crew SC at New England Revolution
Over the course of these two teams' 19-year history, there has not been much animosity between the two sides. That all changed last year with three battles during the regular season and a playoff series that sent the Black and Gold home for an early offseason.
This will be the first game between the MLS Cup runner up and Crew SC since the two early November playoff games that New England dominated. Both teams have young, exciting talent and appear to be forces in the Eastern Conference for years to come. Last season's playoffs began what is shaping up to be a heated rivalry between Columbus and the Revolution.
Jermaine Jones v. Tony Tchani. Ethan Finlay v. Bobby Shuttleworth. All that and more in what should be a fun early season match.
Saturday April 18 - Orlando City SC at Columbus Crew SC
This will be the first meeting between these two teams as Orlando enters 2015 as an MLS expansion franchise. The Lions will make their first trip to Columbus in mid-April before the Black and Gold make trips to Orlando a month and a half later and in early August for the first Crew SC MLS games against a team from Florida since 2001.
Orlando City's roster boasts Brazilian international and former AC Milan and Real Madrid midfielder Kaká, who will hopefully make his Columbus debut on this trip. The Lions also have midfielder Brek Shea, who has 27 caps for the U.S. Men's National Team and makes his return to MLS in 2015.
Saturday May 9 - Seattle Sounders at Columbus Crew SC
Many former Crew SC faces will return to Crew Stadium in this game, but none bigger than Chad Marshall, who will make his first return to Columbus since being traded by head coach Gregg Berhalter last offseason. Marshall spent the first 10 years of his career with the Black and Gold, winning two MLS Defender of the Year awards and was the team captain.
The Sounders, who won last year's Supporter's Shield with the best record in the league, will likely be seeking revenge for last season's 2-1 loss at the hands of Crew SC in Seattle. The Sounders appeared to have earned at least a point in the match until Justin Meram curled a shot into the far corner in stoppage time for the game winner.
This game will also likely feature the return of former Columbus player Brad Evans, former Crew SC head coach Sigi Schmid, U.S. National team forward Clint Dempsey, and former Internazionale and New Castle United forward Obafemi Martins.
Saturday June 13 - LA Galaxy at Columbus Crew SC
As the darling club of MLS, it is always fun when the Galaxy comes to town. There will (likely) be no Landon Donovan, who elected to retire at the conclusion of 2014, but the defending MLS Cup champions still have reigning MLS Most Valuable Player Robbie Keane, former Crew SC winger Robbie Rogers, and 2014 U.S. World Cup member Omar Gonzalez.
This will be the second consecutive year LA comes to Columbus after last year's forgettable performance. The 4-0 win for the Black and Gold sparked an impressive run over the final third of the season to help them clinch a playoff spot and move up to third place in the East. It was easily the best win of the season for Crew SC and it won't be easily forgotten by Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena and his men.
Wednesday July 15 & Sunday July 19 - Columbus Crew SC v. Chicago Fire
These two dates mark back-to-back home and away contests between Columbus and the Fire. The two sides kick off the rivalry on May 22, but these two games, just four days apart, are sure to be nothing but intense.
Last year, the Black and Gold beat Chicago 2-0 at home to end eight game winless streak. The Fire then beat Columbus 4-2 in overtime at Toyota Park in the U.S. Open Cup in late June before an early-August 1-1 draw in Chicago.
The July 19 contest in Columbus will also be Crew SC's only appearance on the ESPN family of networks with this game broadcasting on ESPN2.
Wednesday August 19 - New York City FC at Columbus Crew SC
The new team from the Big Apple comes to Columbus in mid-August, bringing with them former European elite players David Villa and (probably) Frank Lampard. With the combined money of Manchester City and the New York Yankees, this is a team that might have a couple of more stars by the time this game occurs.
As well as the big names, NYCFC rosters former Crew SC players Chris Wingert and Ned Grabavoy. Despite the money they may spend, these veternas could be key contributors for this side by the summer's end.
Sunday October 25 - D.C. United at Columbus Crew SC
This is not only the season finale for Crew SC, but it is the only regular season meeting between Columbus and their oldest rivals at Crew Stadium in 2015.
At this point, fans of the Black and Gold will hope their team has already clinched a spot in the playoffs, preferably a higher seed, but in MLS, things don't always work that way. It could come down to the last day for positioning or even to qualify, depending on how the season goes. Historically in games with United, that can get interesting.