Williams and Schoenfeld take different paths to make their MLS debut
OBETZ, Ohio – Defender Josh Williams made it clear in a joking way to teammate Aaron Schoenfeld after the Crew’s 2-0 win vs. Montreal on Saturday that the forward took the cyber-fast route to his Major League Soccer debut.
“I was giving him a little heat for that, ‘It shouldn’t be that easy,’ ” Williams said.
Williams also played in his first league match, substituting for right back Sebastian Miranda in the 75th minute, but that’s where the similarities ended.
Whereas the rookie Schoenfeld signed with the Crew on Friday then came on for Emilio Renteria (69th minute) barely 24 hours later, Williams took the long way.
The former Cleveland State player was signed for depth purposes on Sept. 15, 2010, and played in two CONCACAF Champions League matches that season and a half dozen Reserve League games in 2011 but never made it with the full squad.
He missed 19 games last season through a combination of a hip strain and a 10-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He said he mistakenly took an over-the-counter supplement and apologized.
Coach Robert Warzycha stuck by Williams and said his spot on the roster was never in doubt.
“It never crossed my mind,” to cut him, Warzycha said. “He’s a good guy. He said he was innocent taken something. That’s what I believe.
“He’s a hard working guy. He brings a lot of positives to the team on and off the field,” he added.
Williams, 23, finally got the call he had been waiting for Saturday. Prior to the start of the second half the coaches told him to be ready in case Miranda’s hamstring became a problem.
“I knew I had a little time to mentally prepare,” said Williams, who was born northeast of Columbus in Akron, Ohio. “I’ve been watching these guys since the inaugural season and to be a part of the home opener and part of a win was huge.”
Schonfeld was equally excited except for a different reason. He was drafted out East Tennessee State by the expansion Montreal Impact but was released in early March.
“The day I got drafted was a pretty good day for me but I also knew I wasn’t coming in with a contract. It was more like a glorified trial,” he said. “The day I was cut was one of the lower days I had in my life but at the same time my friends and family were there for me.”
After auditioning for the Crew in several games against college teams the Crew acquired his rights from Montreal on Friday.
With forward Tommy Heinemann out with a knee injury, Schoenfeld was called upon to help hold the lead against his former club.
“It was a big game for me, especially playing those guys,” Schoenfeld said. “I trained with them for two months. It was a day of emotions for me. It’s pretty crazy thinking how all this lined up.”