Mark McCullers
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McCullers reacts to 2013 schedule

From the standpoint of selling tickets, Crew president Mark McCullers likes that the 2013 Major League Soccer schedule is not front-loaded with home games because of the unpredictability of the weather.

However, that also means playing five of the first seven on the road where the Crew lost its final four last season to finish 4-9-4 away from Crew Stadium and contributed to the club missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

"Regardless of where the road games fall that's where you still have to take care of business," he told by phone just after the MLS schedule was released on Wednesday.

"We've been strong at home the past several years and we need to be strong again. There's opportunity in playing those away games to steal some points early," he added. "If we don't I'm not going to panic. I'm confident we're going to get results on the road along the way."

The Crew opens at Chivas USA on March 2 and plays at Vancouver on March 9. The first of 17 home matches (14 Saturdays, two Sunday afternoons and a Wednesday game on Sept. 4) is March 16 vs. defending Supporters' Shield winner San Jose.

There are five home games through May with a sixth on June 1 against the Houston Dynamo.

"I was really pleased with the league listening to us about five games before My 31st," McCullers said. "Even though we have the June 1 game that's still a favorable result. That's how it should be, frankly, in terms of trying to balance the schedule out over spring, summer and fall.

"If I had to prioritize, getting fewer games before May 31 would have been the top priority and we achieved that."

He likes having two home games against Eastern Conference rivals New York, Houston and Chicago - all whom finished ahead of the Crew last season -  but two-time defending MLS Cup champion Los Angeles will not travel to Columbus for the first time since the inception of the league in 1996.

The Galaxy has been the centerpiece of ticket promotions since the arrival of David Beckham in 2007, even though the English star played only once in Columbus.

" 'Blackout the Galaxy'  has been a brand we've developed over the years. We'll bring it back in 2014," McCullers said. "On the flip side, we've got New York at home twice and they've got some compelling stars.

"At the end of the day we need people who want to come out to see Columbus," he said. "More and more that's the case. We have stars on our team, too, and that will be the focus."

The Crew has a favorable schedule down the stretch with three of the final five at home, including the season finale against New England on Oct. 27.


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