Columbus Crew's Gregg Berhalter cagey on his starting striker for New England Revolution clash

OBETZ, Ohio – The lone forward role in Columbus Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter’s system has been something of a revolving door in 2014.

Jairo Arrieta has started 14 games for the club, while Aaron Schoenfeld and rookie Adam Bedell have each earned seven of their own.

Schoenfeld has been the hot hand lately, starting seven in a row beginning Sept. 7 and notching his first career brace in the club’s 3-1 win over the New York Red Bulls Oct. 19.

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But “Big Celery” was rested in last week’s 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union, when Arrieta scored his first goal as a starter since May 24.

And while Berhalter said after the game that Schoenfeld sat to avoid overuse, the Crew boss was noncommittal about who his starter would be after Friday’s training session, though he guaranteed Schoenfeld some minutes.

“I would say [Schoenfeld] is going to play some role, whether that’s from the beginning or as a substitute,” Berhalter said. “He’s going to play a role in this game. He’s been playing too well not to.”

Schoenfeld said he believes his season – which began with a productive loan spell at USL PRO affiliate club Dayton Dutch Lions – has improved thanks to more consistent playing time, both with Dayton and the Crew.

“I think it’s just consistent games coming together,” he said. “I think the more minutes you play, the sharper you’ll be, and I’ve had the most minutes in my career this year. I feel great.”

Berhalter said he was thrilled that Arrieta scored last week, admitting that his goal was to have multiple strikers in rhythm to begin the playoffs.

“We think it’s crucial to have options up top, and when [Arrieta] is performing he certainly gives us an option, and that’s what we’re looking for,” Berhalter said. “Between him, Aaron and Adam, we feel like we have three good options up top.”

Regardless of his starting status this weekend, Schoenfeld knows it’s been an odd season. But he says he’s enjoyed every minute of it.

“Looking back, it’s been a roller coaster,” he laughed. “But it’s going to be a cool story to tell one day. I talk about it with my parents sometimes. It’s been fun. I’m glad I had my head right at times when it could have been easy to put my head down. But it’s awesome.”

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