Milton Valenzuela - 9.15.18

Ahead of Portland match, Crew SC’s League-best road defense leads the way

Following the first bout of a three-match, eight-day stretch, Columbus Crew SC continues its Western Conference road trip with the best away defense in Major League Soccer.

With a scoreless draw against FC Dallas on Sept. 15, Crew SC jumped into the League’s top slot for multiple road categories, including shutouts, goals conceded, and shots on target faced.

Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter spoke on the positive road point and the team’s defensive strategy following Columbus' draw against the leaders in the west.

“It's a real collective effort, working together,” Berhalter said. “Great compactness, blocking shots, minimizing the space. Our defense starts from the two up top, but it's a team effort. It's 11 guys and I think they did a good job tonight.

“I think our forwards did an outstanding job of getting pressure to their center backs. (Dallas) resorted to playing a lot of long balls, and we have good center backs in the air. I think it played into our hands a little bit.”

Crew SC delivered Dallas its first scoreless performance at Toyota Stadium this season and improved its road shutouts mark to six, the most in MLS. With Saturday’s draw, goalkeeper Zack Steffen recorded his ninth shutout of the season, tying his previous single-season record set in 2017 with six regular-season matches left to play. Additionally, Columbus’ 16 road goals conceded is tied for the fewest in the League.

In Frisco, Crew SC outshot Dallas 16-10, allowing two on frame. Away from MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus has allowed just 48 total shots on target, 16 less than the next-closest team (Atlanta United).

In terms of end results, compared to a 9-2-3 home record, the Black & Gold are 3-6-5 on the road with five draws tying for third League-wide and three victories marking a tie for 11th.

Heading into Portland on Wednesday, Sept. 19, Crew SC is 1-1-2 in its last four road bouts, with a different player tallying each of Columbus' five goals in that span.

Against the Timbers, kickoff is slated for 10:30 p.m. ET, while the Black & Gold return home the following Saturday, Sept. 22, to host the Colorado Rapids as part of Hispanic Heritage Night at MAPFRE Stadium.

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