Play-by-Play Plus: Emergence of Jack McInerney paying huge dividends for the Union
What is becoming obvious to those watching the Union play, is that apparently all Jack McInerney needed was a chance to play.
Under former Manager Peter Nowak, McInerney was at times an unused or little used sub, and at other times he wasn't even a part of the 18-man gameday roster. He was not getting better sitting on the bench or in the suites.
The young forward's status changed almost overnight once John Hackworth took over, first as interim manager, then later as the permanent man in charge. When healthy, McInerney has rarely missed a start or a beat, going back to last year.
Here's what we used to say about Jack:
He's got a nose for the goal, not afraid to go into the trouble spots. He brings instant energy to the game. He has potential.
Here's what is now being said about McInerney:
He makes intelligent runs, finds the open space, and is a quality finisher, not wasting opportunities. He is a very confident striker.
The numbers in this case don't lie. Check these out:
He currently leads MLS in goals with six and in game winning goals with three. He also leads the team in shots (21) and shots on goal (11). That's quite a revealing look. He is putting better than half of his shots on frame, and of those shots that hit the target, he converts on more than half of them. For his two-goal effort at D.C. United, McInerney was named the MLS Player of the Week.
The 20-year-old has now scored in three consecutive games and going back to last season, has scored 10 goals in his last 12 games played. That's a pace that players like Chris Wondolowski can relate to – but not many others.
A first round draft choice in the first year of the Union, it has taken three plus years for him to become this player, and at age 20, one has to think the best is still to come.
I'm not one to predict who the next players are for the U.S. men’s national team, as I've seen far too many hopefuls fall by the wayside. I will say this though, that with the CONCACAF Gold Cup coinciding with FIFA World Cup qualifying, that Gold Cup team will have several new faces on it, and I think McInerney's face will be one of them. What a great opportunity it would be for Jack this summer if he could get on the Gold Cup roster and be on U.S. boss Jurgen Klinsmann's radar.
For now, McInerney will be content with getting ready for his next game on Saturday (7:30 p.m., The Comcast Network) at the New England Revolution.
The Union has never lost to the Revs, winning five and drawing three of the eight meetings between the two.
McInerney must like to play against those guys, having netted four goals in just six games played against. This will be the second straight road game for the Union who will head back to PPL Park on Saturday, May 4 for a matchup with Seattle.
Hope you will join me and color analyst Alejandro Moreno for the call of the Union at New England game, with the recent form of this club, it should be a another good one.