Imagine what Jack McInerney might have accomplished had the circumstances been different from the beginning.
McInerney’s goal in the 19th minute – Philadelphia Union’s only tally in a 3-1 loss Saturday night at Houston – gave him at least one goal in four consecutive games.
If you’re counting, that’s a franchise record.
Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga each had scored in three straight matches since the franchise’s inception in 2010, but the 20-year-old forward has now topped the two former fan favorites.
McInerney positioned himself perfectly and headed home a clean cross by Sheanon Williams to briefly tie the game at one goal apiece. It was the eighth goal in just 18 games for the No. 7 overall selection in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft.
Earlier this season, McInerney was unsure if he would make the gameday roster, let alone score in four straight matches. Now, the third-year striker has left no doubt about his standing with the team, and his goal was a lone bright spot in an otherwise frustrating night for the Union.
“It definitely feels good but I would have rather won tonight,” McInerney said. “It (stinks) to lose.”
Aside from that goal, there weren’t many scoring chances for the Union.
“I thought it was a sloppy match by us,” McInerney said. “They came out strong and pushed us. We had a tough time controlling the ball and getting forward. It just wasn’t good enough for us tonight.”
Prior to Saturday's loss, the Union were 3-0-1 in their last four matches overall. But that momentum didn’t carry over into this match at Houston.
“I’m pretty disappointed in the way we played,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “I didn’t feel like our team performed at the level we are capable of. With that said, you have to give Houston credit. It’s incredibly hard to play here. They made it hard. They came out with a ton of pressure. They fought for everything. We couldn’t seem to find our rhythm.
“We gave up an early goal that should never have happened. We did well to get back into the back, but we failed to control the tempo we way we wanted to. Part of that is that this is an incredibly tough place to play.”
The loss was eerily similar to the Union's 2-1 loss in Houston earlier in the year, on June 30. In that game, the Dynamo got a late goal on a penalty kick after Brian Ching went down following what appeared to be incidental contact by Gabriel Farfan.
This time, Brad Davis converted a penalty kick in the 75th minute after colliding with Union captain Carlos Valdés. The call seemed questionable at best and it gave the Dynamo a commanding 3-1 lead that ultimately helped seal a playoff berth for the home side.
“It’s not a penalty kick,” Hackworth said. “I just watched it. What can you do? Nothing I can do.”