PSP talks to Crew forward Aaron Schoenfeld

Photo: Paul Rudderow

PSP spoke to Columbus Crew striker Aaron Schoenfeld as he prepared to face the Union in an important Eastern Conference matchup. Schoenfeld has worked his way into coach Robert Warzycha’s rotation after starting the season as a regular member of the reserve team. The big forward talked about keeping track of the Union’s speedsters, the importance of keeping your game steady on the road, and how the depth of the Columbus squad makes them think they can put together a strong spell at any time. 

PhillySoccerPage: How has the season gone so far? Are you in a good place in the conference, or have you underperformed a bit based on your expectations?

Aaron Schoenfeld: I think the team as a whole, certainly everybody on the roster, thinks we have underperformed. We have one of the deepest teams in the league, player-for-player, all the way down to the 30th man on the roster. If you look at the Eastern Conference it’s all tight and in one or two games you can jump four or five spots. So we are focusing on these next couple of games and trying to get our points.

Do you think the Eastern Conference is a little different than last year? In the past few years the West has been getting the higher point totals but now it seems like the East has quite a few teams that can grab a playoff spot. Does that put more pressure on you not to drop points when you’re playing in-conference?

I don’t think we feel the pressure. I think the team as a whole knows we have a good enough squad here that if we perform at the level we should be playing at we can pick up points on the road and at home.

We know from the last few seasons that every point matters, like last season when we missed the playoffs by one point, so we know how important every point is, for sure.

When you play teams in the Eastern Conference, particularly teams around you in the standings, is it more intense? Do you want to win more to show a team you belong above them in the standings?

You look at the Eastern Conference, a win against another team can be a six point swing either way. So there’s a little added pressure and momentum going into these games.

Going on the road against a team like Philly that has a suspect defense, do you guys want to come out a bit more aggressive than you normally would on the road?

I think we keep to what we’ve been doing. If you look at our last two road games in New York and Toronto, we got four points and I think gathering points on the road is always a good sign so we just want to keep doing what we’re doing on the road.

Despite the fact that your defense has been fairly spectacular this year, sixteen goals on offense puts you near the bottom of the middle of the pack. Do you think you guys are ready to give up a bit of the defensive organization to spring the attack a bit quicker, or are the chancers there and it’s just about finishing them?

I think we rely on defense first out here. We try to play through them and goals will come. There are games where you score three goals easy and there are games where you can’t buy a goal. It’s all with the flow of the game.

How is the confidence level for you guys this year? You guys have been picking up points but it seems like you can’t get over that hump where you wake up in the morning and look in the standings and you’re above that playoff line. Does that affect you at all or do you just see it as part of a long season.

We look at it as a grind. Such a long season, thirty-plus games a year, we’re about at the halfway point and anything can happen. You win three or four games in a row and you can jump to the top of the Eastern Conference so we’re just going to keep doing what we are doing.

You guys have already played the Union once. What did you see that game and what are you expecting this match?

They’ve got a lot of young talent. A lot of flyers, a lot of pace.

Jack Mac’s scoring at a great rate right now for a striker and we’re going to have to have an eye on him all game and not give him any space because he’s not missing any chances so far.

Last game the Union used their speed to get a couple first half chances on you guys and it was working well for them until Oduro pulled one back for you, any adjustments you want to make going into this game?

I don’t think so. We play it as if it’s another game and we just have to keep an eye on some of their guys and kind of eliminate the chances they had last game.

The Union and Crew face off Wednesday evening at PPL Park. See PSP’s preview and Quick Reference to get ready for the match. 

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