Schoenfeld’s confidence shines in career day at New England

Crew forward provides goal and assist in first appearance since July 20 injury

Aaron Schoenfeld

Photo Credit: 
USA Today Sports Images

With the Crew down 1-0 to New England on Saturday and the walls closing in on the team’s playoff hopes, Interim Head Coach Brian Bliss knew he had to make a change to bolster the Black & Gold attack.

Insert forward Aaron Schoenfeld.

In his first appearance since leaving the July 20 match against New England with a right shoulder sprain, Schoenfeld entered the match at halftime for midfielder Ethan Finlay. He made his presence felt right away up top alongside Jairo Arreta.

“We had talked in the previous week about if we were losing we were going to play a little bit more direct, and it fit my style of play a little better,” Schoenfeld said. “Going out there and playing with confidence, playing with a little bit of freedom, it helped out a lot.”

Schoenfeld’s play not only aided with his own confidence, it also helped turn the game around for his team. The second-year forward out of East Tennessee State provided the assist on Dominic Oduro’s 59th-minute finish that made it 1-1 and scored a stunning equalizer in the 71st minute, less than two minutes after New England had reclaimed the lead.

The young gun showed veteran composure on both Crew goals. On the first, he received a pass from midfielder Wil Trapp near the top of the penalty area in the teeth of the Revolution defense. After shielding the ball away from two defenders with his back to goal and seeing a third running at him from the midfield, Schoenfeld coolly delivered a right-footed pass to a wide-open Oduro, who blasted it into the roof of the net.

The second goal was a brilliant piece of skill. Again, Schoenfeld received the ball in the penalty area with his back to goal – this time on a pass from Oduro. And once more, he was surrounded by a host of Revs defenders. This time, he took one touch with his right foot to turn and another to set the ball out in front of him before violently smacking a left-footed shot into the top left corner of the goal.

The goal received national attention, being nominated for MLSsoccer.com’s Goal of the Week. Not bad for the first tally of Schoenfeld’s MLS career.

“It feels good,” he said. “Scoring a goal would feel good no matter what, but having a goal like that I couldn’t have asked for a better first goal.”

Since he was acquired by the Crew in March of 2012 from the Montreal Impact, the 20th overall pick of the 2012 Supplemental Draft has worked to make a name for himself in the Black & Gold fold.

He made nine appearances and three starts in 2012. In a match against the Houston Dynamo on April 21, he provided the helper on a second-half blast by Eddie Gaven that helped secure a 2-2 draw.

This season, he was beginning to make a mark when he suffered a shoulder injury in the first half of a start against New England on July 20. With one match remaining, his nine appearances in 2013 matched his appearance total of 2012.

Now, following his “Barbasol Man of the Match” performance at New England, Schoenfeld looks like a breath of fresh air in the Crew lineup heading into the offseason. Another good performance against the Revolution in Sunday’s regular-season finale at Crew Stadium would only strengthen that feeling.

“I’m hoping to leave a good taste in everyone’s mouth at the end of this year.”