After ending the 2015 season with a disappointing loss to the Portland Timbers in the Finals of the MLS Cup Playoffs, the Columbus Crew SC is already looking towards the 2016 season. While there have been rumors lately of the Crew SC being interested in bringing Radamel Falcao over from Europe, the team has been able to make a few official announcements recently regarding their future. On Wednesday, it was announced that head coach Gregg Berhalter signed a multi-year extension to his contract. On Thursday, they released their regular season schedule for 2016.If you're a Columbus Crew SC fan anxious to get another shot at the Portland Timbers, you're in luck. The first game of the 2016 MLS Season will see the Crew SC travel to Portland to challenge last season's MLS Cup champions. Set for March 6, the Crew SC's season gets under way less than two months from now. The first game at MAPFRE Stadium will be March 12, when they host the Philadelphia Union.
On two different occasions in 2016, the Crew will have three-game road trips, including the very end of the season when their last two games are against the New York Red Bulls and the New York FC. They only play three times in a row at home once in 2016, when they host Toronto FC, DC United, and Orlando City SC in July. You can download the Columbus Crew SC 2016 MLS season schedule at the club's official website.
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While the Crew SC look to improve from runners-up to MLS Cup Champions in 2016, they have nothing to be ashamed of regarding last season's effort. Under the leadership of head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter, Columbus has regained their position as one of the most dominant teams in MLS, winning their second Eastern Conference title. Joining the team late into their 2013 campaign, the Crew SC finished third in the Eastern Conference in 2014 under Berhalter's guidance before coming so close to the Cup in 2015.While Berhalter's contract already lasted through the 2017 season, the club has not disclosed the details of the contract extension. But according to Anthony Precourt, a Crew SC investor-operator and chairman, the former member of the U.S. National team will be in Columbus "well into the future."
"We proactively approached Gregg prior to the end of the 2015 regular season. Our rebuilding efforts at Crew SC have been focused on building a sustainable culture and a highly professional way of conducting our business on and off the field. We are thrilled to have Gregg and the world-class coaching and administrative staff he has assembled lead us forward into 2016 and beyond. Our results over Gregg's first two seasons speak for themselves. Onward and upward."As noted by MLSSoccer.com, Berhalter has helped transform the Crew SC program into one with "an expansive, possession-based philosophy" and is the most successful coach in Columbus history, touting a.515 career points-earned percentage. And the addition of Radamel Falcao is still a definite possibility for the Crew SC in the upcoming season. On loan -- and mostly on the bench -- with Manchester United and Chelsea for the last two seasons from AS Monaco, Falcao has yet to fully recover from a knee injury he sustained in January of 2014.
Not currently playing at the level expected from someone once considered one of the best strikers in the world, Falcao has talked with former teammate Federico Higuain about playing in MLS. According to NBC Sports, Crew SC continue to pursue the Argentine soccer player. The story continues to develop as we enter the January transfer window.While last season was an exciting one for the re-branded Columbus Crew SC, an even better season could begin in less than 60 days.
[Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images]