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Philadelphia Union opening season at defending MLS Cup winners

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The Union will play at Crew Stadium (again) to open the 2021 regular season

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Crew will begin their title defense against the Philadelphia Union in a kind of MLS version of the FA community shield on April 18 at Historic Crew Stadium in a battle of last year’s two trophy winners on Wednesday, April 18.

The game will be broadcast live on FS1 and FOX Deportes at 5:30 p.m. and will mark the fourth straight time the Union have to go to the Crew’s turf to play the Eastern Conference rivals. The Union played both games — and lost — against the Crew last season and had their second meeting of the season there in 2019. It’s been almost two calendar years since the Union hosted Columbus.

Barring a match-up in the U.S. Open Cup, this will mark the Union’s last visit to the league’s first soccer specific stadium, which will be replaced by a new stadium this summer. It also means Union fans will have to wait until 2022 to see them play in the new stadium, unless the Crew host a playoff meeting.

The boys in blue will return home the following weekend on Saturday, April 24, to take on Inter Miami at 8 p.m. at Subaru Park. A limited number of fans will be admitted and the match will be broadcast live on PHL17 and streamed on PhiladelphiaUnion.com. The website stream will also include a 30-minute digital-only postgame show.

The Union’s first match of 2021 will be in Costa Rica for the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 against Deportivo Saprissa on Wednesday, April 7 at 6 p.. The return leg will be in Chester on Wednesday, April 14 at 8 p.m.