Kristinn Steindorsson
USA Today Sports Images

With Meram out, Berhalter has options on the left

Though Crew SC is fairly healthy with Romain Gall's slight knee knock being the only injury being carried into Saturday's 2015 season opener in Houston, Columbus will be without one of its most impactful players from the 2014 campaign when it takes the field against the Dynamo. Winger Justin Meram will serve a one-match suspension following his two yellow cards in the second leg of the 2014 Eastern Conference Semifinal against the New England Revolution.

While Meram's technical ability that produced eight goals and four assists a year ago will be difficult to replace, Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter is confident in his options to fill-in the Iraqi National Team member. 

"We have a number of options to fill Justin’s spot," Berhalter told media on Wednesday. "If you look at Ben Speas, the potential of Hector [Jimenez] and Kristinn [Stendorsson] is one of those guys as well."

The Icelandic Steindorsson, who joined the club in December, could be set for his MLS debut on Saturday as the winger started Crew SC's last two preseason matches. His work on the field, as well as his ability to gel with his new teammates, left Berhalter impressed following the preseason.

"[Steindorsson] performed well in preseason," Berhalter complimented the winger. "I think he’s done a good job, he gets in good positions. He’s done a good job, especially integrating into the team being a new player."

A technically gifted winger whose past experience comes from top-tier clubs in his native Iceland and Sweden, Steindorsson has adapted well to Berhalter's possession-based tactics and on-field vision. In preseason play, Steindorsson netted a pair of goals following his first international goal and cap for Iceland in January. 

Steindorsson is confident in his ability if called upon to fill-in alongside Ethan Finlay and Federico Higuaín in Crew SC's three-man attacking midfield setup.

"I feel more and more comfortable with the team. Scoring a couple goals, and playing overall, I think it's pretty good — I’m confident," he said.

"I want to get into the spaces, into the pockets, and receive the ball. Create with passes and get into the box and score. I’m the type of player you’d expect playing in this system."

Though the physicality is different than the play Steindorsson experienced abroad, the midfielder has been impressed with the level of MLS so far. 

"It’s different from team to team," he explained. "We play a lot of possession, a lot of keeping the ball. Then you have teams that are more physical, maybe more direct. I think overall, the level is good. They play hard. It’s a lot of physicality, a lot of fit guys and then teams that play really good football."

Crew SC kicks-off Saturday against the Dynamo at 8:30 p.m. ET (Time Warner Cable SportsChannel / CD102.5 FM) from BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. 

INAUGURAL STADIUM KIT: Purchase an authentic Inaugural Stadium Kit online or pick it up in-person at the Crew SC Shop!