CHESTER, Pa. -- In the 73rd minute, Keon Daniel came on the pitch to replace Jack McInerney.
As soon as the announcement was made over the public address system, the crowd of 18,207 at PPL Park gave McInerney a standing ovation.
McInerney’s two first half goals got the Philadelphia Union started and helped propel them to a huge 4-0 victory over a strong Sporting Kansas City side on Saturday.
When news broke that Peter Nowak was stepping down and John Hackworth was taking over as the interim manager, subtle changes were sure to be made.
Inserting McInerney in the starting lineup has made a huge difference.
In two starts against D.C. United and Kansas City, the 19-year-old third-year forward has taken advantage.
And the fans have noticed.
“It felt great to hear that ovation,” McInerney told philadelphiaunion.com. “I hadn’t been playing that much at all, so getting on the field was a great thing. I think I just needed to know that I’m wanted. The coaches have shown they want me on the team. Coach Hack has shown a lot of confidence in me and it’s great.
“Of course, I want to play well for him and the staff and the fans here who always support us.”
McInerney had four goals combined in his first two seasons, after being the seventh overall pick by the Union in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft.
For much of this season, he wasn’t playing in league matches though he did see time in friendlies and reserve matches.
For a player with such a huge upside, it was tough to wait for his opportunity.
Then the organization made a change and McInerney has surged ahead.
“Right now, my confidence is as high as it can be,” McInerney said.”When you score two goals, it helps a lot, obviously. For a young player, getting on the field, it’s all about confidence. You get time and you get to show your skills. It’s all about confidence. It’s been a roller-coaster, really. A lot of things have changed with the players, within the organization. I want to do what I can to help the team. It’s been a great time for me, but I’m most happy with the fact that we won 4-0 against a very good team.”
McInerney’s teammates are even more thrilled for his success.
“He can run like the wind and his work ethic is amazing,” said midfielder Michael Lahoud. “He’s young, but this is his third season in the league and he has so much talent. I think we all saw that tonight with his play. He was great tonight and showed how hungry he is for playing time.”
“When he got his chance, he took it,” midfielder Freddy Adu added. “We all are very, very happy for him.”
McInerney has no plans to rest on his laurels. He plans to build on this success and keep carrying it to another level.
“The staff has shown confidence and trust in me, and I want to keep proving myself,” McInerney said. “I am very happy with the results, but hopefully, this is just a start of a great run for myself and our club. I’m so happy we got a win. Did it feel good to play a big part in it? Sure. You always want to play. It definitely feels great to be contributing.”