Just two matches into the 2015 MLS season, Crew SC's depth has already been tested.
In Week One, it was Kristinn Steindorsson stepping into the starting XI at Houston for the suspended Justin Meram on the left wing. The next week versus Toronto FC, Mohammed Saeid played the hero in central midfield filling in for Tony Tchani during the Cameroonian's suspension.
Week Three will be no different as Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter will need replacements for leftback Waylon Francis and winger Justin Meram against the New York Red Bulls. Francis and Meram are away on international duty with Costa Rica and Iraq, respectively.
"Obviously, we’re going to be missing some talent," Berhalter said at the Black & Gold's Tuesday training session in Obetz. "It’s not easy. If you look around the League, there are so many players that are gone from games [due to international duty]. That’s why we built this roster. Guys can step in and do their job and perform at a high level still."
A veteran of 28 caps with the United States Men's National Team, Crew SC captain Michael Parkhurst is no stranger to the obstacle of international duty. The 31-year-old centerback doesn't expect the home side to miss a beat against the Red Bulls on Saturday.
"Depth is always important," he said. "You expect that everyone learns the system, so everyone is tactically prepared to step in and get the job done. I think guys have done a great job. We expect other guys to step in this week and do the same. Especially international weekends, every team out there is going to be calling on other guys to step up.
"We’ll see who in the League has the best depth."
As for replacing Francis and Meram, Berhalter has options at both positions in his 4-2-3-1 formation. Playing his cards close to the chest, the Crew SC boss named multiple players who can fill out the Black & Gold's left side.
"We have a number of options [at leftback]," he explained. "We have Chris Klute. Chad Barson has played there, so we feel like we have a couple options. We have Tyson [Wahl], who has played there before. We have guys."
He continued: "[Steindorsson] is an option [at left midfield]. We have Hector [Jimenez] as well, who played there last year and scored a goal. We also have Romain Gall, who’s back now and training. We’re slowly but surely getting guys fit."
Crew SC kicks-off against the Red Bulls at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday (Time Warner Cable SportsChannel / CD102.5 FM) from MAPFRE Stadium.