FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – When New England Revolution forward Zack Schilawski made the leap to MLS last year, he found one question more puzzling than most other queries.
“Coming in as a rookie, people ask you what your expectations are,” Schilawski told MLSsoccer.com earlier this month. “It's a really hard question to answer, right? I have no idea. I've never played at that level before. I don't know too much about it.”
Despite the success Schilawski achieved during his rookie campaign, it took the Wake Forest product until the onset of his second season to sift through the possible responses and select the appropriate answer.
“As a rookie, you're coming in and you're trying to feel things,” Schilawski said. “During the second year, you know where you are and you know where you want to be.”
Schilawski's first season with the Revs inspired him to set higher goals for the upcoming campaign. A return of five goals in 25 matches marks a positive start in a league that doesn't often produce prolific rookie goal-scorers, but Schilawski said he hopes to increase his production in 2011.
“In my mind, I'm always a work in progress,” Schilawski said.
Pushing forward will require Schilawski to develop a bit more assertiveness and confidence as he heads into 2011. The 23-year-old striker launched just 17 shots toward goal and landed just nine of those efforts on target during his 1,261 minutes on the field in 2010.
While the Revs' inability to create chances and retain possession played a significant role in Schilawski's lack of opportunities in front of goal, those numbers – plus the modest haul of two goals in 24 appearances aside the hat trick registered upon his home debut – must increase in order to guarantee regular playing time.
“I want to be more comfortable and more confident so I can help the team more than I did at the end of last season,” Schilawski said. “It's always about getting better – I don't want to have to backtrack, but I want to pick off where I left off last season. I always want to be improving.”
In order to continue his development, Schilawski said he believes he must show a bit more ruthlessness and selfishness in front of goal. As a rookie, Schilawski said he thought he deferred a bit too often to others rather than going to goal himself.
Instead of hesitating in his actions to avoid potential conflict, Schilawski said he plans to take charge more regularly as he attempts to increase his goal haul and secure a berth in the starting XI.
“This year, all of those thoughts are out of my mind,” Schilawski said. “I want to come out here, as a forward, to have the confidence to score as many goals as I can during preseason and take as many shots as I can.”