Play-by-Play Plus: Union look to keep momentum as loss of McInerney comes at critical time

The latest column from Union play-by-play man JP Dellacamera

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Good news and bad news came on Thursday for the Union and its young striker in Jack McInerney. The good news is that McInerney, 20, was named to the United States senior men’s national team for the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup – which begins in July.

The bad news? Well, also that Jack was called up to national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad.

For the good news part, this is a well-deserved opportunity for the young forward that has had a sensational MLS campaign thus far. McInerney has 10 goals – five of which were game winners – topping the team and the league (three-way tie for most goals in MLS).

He is one of the main reasons why the Union are in second place in MLS’ Eastern Conference as they get ready for Saturday’s match against FC Dallas at PPL Park (5:30 p.m., purchase tickets)

As for the bad news, this is a tough time to lose McInerney. Depending on how far the Americans advance he could miss up to five Union matches. That's a potential of 15 key points to be won or lost, in his absence.

While the team does have Conor Casey and Sebastien Le Toux both playing at a high level, and Antoine Hoppenot continuing to make a difference off the bench, the fact is that this is a much better team with McInerney on the field. In the last two games, it seems as if manager John Hackworth has found the way to play all three of his offensive stars in the same lineup by putting Le Toux on the right side of midfield and letting McInerney play up top with Casey.

With McInerney away on international duty, Hackworth could move Le Toux up to play with Casey, or keep things as they are, and just insert Hoppenot as a starter in Jack's spot.

Either way, you do lose a little something.

The club will have McInerney for Saturday's game against Dallas, but will lose him right after that. On Saturday, the club will also have to deal with the absence of midfielder Keon Daniel who was called up by Trinidad and Tobago, also for Gold Cup duty. In addition, the team is dealing with injuries to Kleberson and Danny Cruz, so the squad's depth could get a real test against a strong FC Dallas team.

FC Dallas comes in holding on to third place in MLS’ Western Conference. For a good part of the season they have been in first place. The only reason they have dropped in the standings has been the better play of both Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers.

FC Dallas comes in to Philly with a balanced attack, tied with the Union with an average of 1.56 goals scored per game.

Blas Perez has five goals to lead the team followed by Jackson, Kenny Cooper, and ex-Union midfielder Andrew Jacobson all with three. Playmaker David Ferreira leads the club with five assists. This is a dangerous team with both speed and skill, with the ability to finish.

It's a tough assignment for a shorthanded Union team that is coming off two straight 3-0 shutout wins versus Columbus and New York.

Hackworth's team will be looking for another statement game as they begin a tough three game stretch against three very good clubs. After the FC Dallas game, the Union hit the road to visit Real Salt Lake and Houston.

Enjoy this one at PPL Park. The game will also be televised nationally by the NBC Sports Network.