OBETZ, Ohio – It was a bitterly disappointing result over the weekend against the New England Revolution that dropped the Columbus Crew out of the MLS playoffs race, but one definitive bright spot did emerge from the wreckage: Aaron Schoenfeld’s first MLS goal, a spinning second-half golazo.
The Crew’s young striker entered the game to begin the second half and created both of the team's goals on the evening with an assist and goal in an eventual 3-2 loss. His left-footed, turnaround, looping strike was a beauty and was nominated for MLS Goal of the Week.
“As a forward, you're there to score goals and help create goals, so it's kind of a monkey off my back now,” Schoenfeld told reporters at training on Wednesday. “When you're there, you want to please the people who believe in you and put you in.
“I didn't expect to score a goal like that for my first one,” he continued. “But it came off right, and it felt good.”
Columbus interim head coach Brian Bliss said Schoenfeld was largely responsible for the Crew coming back from 1-0 and 2-1 down, and that the team has seen the 23-year-old second-year pro hit similar shots in practice. Bliss just didn't expect it to come during a match.
“He really gave us some life there, winning challenges in the air, redirecting some of the air balls down to guys, combining with Jairo [Arrieta] and Dominic [Oduro] up top,” Bliss said. “The icing on the cake was the quick turn and the shot. We've seen him do it in training before, and sometimes that's difficult to translate to the game.”
Schoenfeld has endured a roller coaster season to get to this point, thought. After earning a series of starts midseason, injuries derailed his attempts at playing time. Saturday's substitute appearance was his first playing time since July 20.
- Get the latest Columbus Crew news at TheCrew.com
“He works hard every day, and he's a good pro,” Bliss said. “He's been hit with a few injuries over his career with us. We've always known he had some ability, it's just a matter of stringing it together.”
While he admitted his setbacks have been frustrating, Schoenfeld said he feels like he's finally returning to form.
“Whenever you come back, it's kind of a rebuilding process for yourself,” he said. “It takes a couple of weeks to get sharp. You try to find confidence, but you're not sharp at first, and you lose confidence in your game. It's always just a battle to get back to where you were.”