Black & Gold look forward to challenge in Texas

Crew SC will continue its three-match road swing in Frisco, Texas on Saturday night in hopes of its first win of the 2016 season.

The Black & Gold will visit Toyota Stadium for the first time since the 2013 season to play FC Dallas, a team that has won seven of its last nine regular-season matches and is undefeated in its last nine at home (8-0-1).

Crew SC is anticipating a tough and physical game against an FC Dallas team that has started the 2016 season on a roll, winning three of its four matches, all ending in shutouts.

The trip to Frisco will be the first for Gregg Berhalter as head coach and sporting director of Crew SC. It will also be the first time he and his team will face FC Dallas after the Red & White snapped a three-game Crew SC undefeated streak last September with a 3-0 victory in Columbus.

While facing FC Dallas will be a challenge, Berhalter sees the trip to Texas as an opportunity to play a team unlike any Crew SC has faced yet this season.

“I think they have a good team, a good defensive team and a good block of players centrally,” he says. “They stay organized, so it’s going to be tough. We expect them to come out and hopefully play a little more than the other teams have so far, so it should open up some space for us.”

With Crew SC coming off its best defensive performance this season, a 0-0 draw at the Chicago Fire, a complete team effort by the Black & Gold will be vital in defeating a physical FC Dallas team.

“It’s a big challenge against FC Dallas but we’re looking forward to it,” goalkeeper Steve Clark says. “We want to have good defensive balance and we want to play our game. We are going there to try to win the game.”

A good defensive balance will be a key factor in the Black & Gold’s ability to slow down FC Dallas forward Maxi Urruti, who is a season goal leader for the Hoops, scoring three in the past four games, and tops the League in tackles attempted by a forward, succeeding in 12 of 14 attempts.

“We’ll keep him moving,” Berhalter says. “He likes to tackle, he likes to run with it, so we’ll certainly let him do that.”

On the offensive side, Crew SC is creating plenty of chances ranking second in the MLS, but finishing a few of those will be a challenge with Dallas honing in on Crew SC’s DPs Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain.

At the same time, Crew SC will have to contain not only Urruti, but Michael Barrios, Mauro Diaz and Fabian Castillo, all of whom have found the back of the net for Dallas this season.

How do you defend against so much attacking power?

“Well, you use your teammates,” Clark says. “We’ll be, as always on this team, trying to play complete team soccer and that’s what we are going to do.”

A victory at Toyota Stadium would be the first win for Crew SC over FC Dallas in Frisco since the Black & Gold’s last visit, which ended in a 4-2 victory in 2013.

Kickoff on Saturday is set for 9 p.m. ET.  The match will be live on The CW Columbus, Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and BCSN2.

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