The term "eye test" is often thrown about in professional sports, often as a contrast to statistics.
In certain instances, a player can pass the eye test by putting forth exemplary performances that are undetectable in the box score, for whatever reason. Crew striker Aaron Schoenfeld is a prime example of this type of player. Although the goals have not yet come for the "Big Celery," Schoenfeld has looked stronger with each match in five consecutive substitute appearances for the Black & Gold.
"I feel like I'm getting closer and closer to scoring some goals," said Schoenfeld. "I felt like I helped create a little bit against the Galaxy, but every game you play, the more comfortable you get on the field."
While the Knoxville, Tennessee native has not found the back of the net in 130 MLS minutes this season, he was on a scoring tear with the Dayton Dutch Lions of USL-PRO before being recalled to help the Crew attack. Since then, he has impressed in appearances off the bench, much to the delight of Gregg Berhalter.
"Aaron's done great. In that role, he's been phenomenal," said the Crew boss. "He comes in, he brings energy, physicality, desire, work rate – everything that you want in that specific role, right? Where you're leading in the game and you need a guy to help preserve the lead, be tough on the defenders and make stuff happen. I think it's been good. When the game's tied or you need some action, I think he can be really useful."
What effect did the stint at Dayton have on Schoenfeld's development as a player? According to Berhalter, it meant the world.
"I think it gave him confidence. I really do. There have been doubts if he can score, and he scored there. That gives a player confidence. You see his left-footed shot off the post – he didn't even hesitate. That's what we're asking these guys to do. Be confident in those positions."
Watch the video above to see what Berhalter means. Schoenfeld chests the ball down, confidently drives inside and thumps a rocket off the post all in one motion. By mere inches, it didn't count for anything on the scoreboard, but that shot is perfect embodiment of the eye test. It's the type of play that can only come with confidence.
"The game feels a little slower to me than in previous years," said Schoenfeld. "Playing down in Dayton, just getting consistent games ... It helped a lot in seeing the game a little slower for me. I'm grateful for the time I had down there. I think it helped a lot."