For the time being, Aaron Schoenfeld is where he wants to be.
Back in Columbus after a highly successful early season run with Dayton Dutch Lions FC, the Crew striker recently ascended to the starter's role after a sudden appendectomy to Adam Bedell. With one goal and one assist in 183 minutes as a substitute prior to his first start of the season, the Knoxville native entered the nod with confidence and knows that the role is very much an open competition down the stretch.
"Anytime you get the chance to start, you have to go out there and show your best," said the forward. "Every player believes in himself. I'm out there trying to do all I can."
While Schoenfeld has not added to his goal-scoring record over the past two starts, he has contributed in other ways. In his debut start, on September 7 against Chivas USA, he both had a goal called back for a foul and drew a penalty after good positioning in the area on a corner kick.
In his second start, against Houston, Schoenfeld noted that he would have liked to get a few more shots off, but said that the Dynamo's game plan made it difficult to get anything going down the middle. He also acknowledged his own goal in the match, calling it a "freak play" that came as a result of stepping out to defend a corner kick. In the end, the big-game experience and the tough battle of playing in a place like Houston should make both Schoenfeld -- and the Crew -- better served down the stretch, no matter the role he plays.
Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter has said in the past that he loved Schoenfeld's ability as a substitute and what he brings to the pitch. As a starter, the Crew boss said that he did fine as well. The roles are distinctly different, but in the heat of a playoff chase, the striker knows he has to contribute in any way he can.
"The mindset of a sub, you come on and give it all you have," said Schoenfeld. "Generally, best case, you're probably going to get 30 minutes as a sub. By the end of those 30 minutes, you better be dead tired. That's a factor when you're starting, how much energy to put out, but at the same time we're in a playoff hunt, so you have to give it your all every minute you're out there."