Major League Soccer, slimmer and trimmer after an off-season of cutbacks, opens its seventh season Saturday afternoon when the Columbus Crew hosts the Chicago Fire in a game that will be shown live on ABC.
The match is the first in a season that will end with MLS Cup 2002, the league's championship game, Oct. 20 at CMGI Field in Foxboro, Mass.
Midway through the season, on Aug. 3, the All-Star game will be played at RFK Stadium in Washington and probably will feature a new format, with MLS stars playing a team of international standouts.
The league also is negotiating with FIFA, world soccer's governing body, to bring the 2002 World Cup winner to either Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., or to RFK Stadium for a Sept. 11 match against a team of world all-stars. Proceeds would benefit victims of last year's terrorist attacks on the United States.