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Columbus Crew announces 2020 season opener

The Black & Gold will begin the new year in front of its home fans.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC announced on Thursday, in conjunction with Major League Soccer, that the team will open the 2020 season at home, hosting New York City FC on Sunday, March 1 at MAPFRE Stadium. Kickoff for that game is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET. This contest is one of 13 games on opening weekend and five that are set for that Sunday.

The game is the only one on the schedule up to this point as the Crew do not feature in any other team’s home openers. Steve Goff of the Washington Post reports that the league is planning to release the full schedule by the end of the month.

Across the league, eight games kick off on Feb. 29, highlighted by the first matchup of regional rivals Nashville SC and Atlanta United in the expansion team’s home opener at 8 p.m. ET. MLS CUP finalists Toronto FC open on the road against the San Jose Earthquakes that day as well.

On March 1, fellow Ohioans FC Cincinnati open the team’s second MLS season with a 1 p.m. ET trip to Red Bull Arena to face Red Bull New York. The defending champions Seattle Sounders host the newly rebrand Chicago Fire at 3 p.m. ET. Inter Miami begins its first season in MLS on the road, heading to play Los Angles Football Club for a Sunday 5:30 p.m. ET matchup. The south Florida team must wait two more weeks to open their “temporary” home, Lockhart Stadium, when they will face LA Galaxy will on March 14.

The Crew’s first game will be the earliest date for a league home game in team history. The team opened the 2019 season against the Red Bulls on March 2 with a 1-1 tie. The Black & Gold also opened the 2013 season with a 3-0 win in Los Angeles against Chivas USA.

This game is not the earliest Columbus game in team history. The Black & Gold played a CONCACAF Champions League game on February 2 against Real Salt Lake in 2011, tying 0-0 with game time temperatures reaching as low as 27 degrees.

The 2020 season will mark the Crew’s 25th in MLS and the final year at MAPFRE Stadium, which opened in 1999. The Black & Gold is expected to open the team’s new downtown stadium in July of 2021.

Columbus is still in the process of finalizing details on the Crew’s preseason plans, but details for that trip are expected to be announced soon.