Jack McInerney has clearly elevated his level of play over the past year-and-a-half.
It’s not a coincidence.
Philadelphia Union manager John Hackworth has shown a tremendous amount of confidence in his fourth-year striker.
And McInerney has responded.
After scoring goals and adding three assists last season, the 20-year-old McInerney has scored three times this season. Actually, it’s three goals in the last five games, placing him tied for third in the league.
McInerney looks confident on the pitch.
“I do feel confidence and it means a lot to me that coach Hack feels that way about me,” said McInerney, who has started the last four games. “For some of the younger guys like me and Amobi (Okugo) and some others, coach Hack has put a lot of faith and trust in us. It feels good, but at the same time, we know we have to go out and get results, too.”
McInerney and Hackworth go back a long way together.
Upon being rewarded with the full-time position midway through last season, Hackworth plugged McInerney’s name into the lineup. That trend has continued this season and the results are evident.
“It means a lot knowing I came into the league at 17 and I knew him in residency at 15,” McInerney said. “He’s probably why I was drafted here. He has faith in me and has continued to put me out on the field. Like I said before, you’ve got to get results on the field. I want it to be like he has no choice but to put me out on the field. I’ve got to go to work every week, show the determination and desire that has gotten me to this point. I think if I do that and show him what I can do when I’m playing, that will go longer than anything.
“Coach Hack has helped me so much to get to the point where I am now. I’m going to keep putting the work in every single day and hopefully, he’ll keep putting me out there.”
McInerney is also a team player in every way imaginable.
As long as the Union win and compile points, he’s happy. It doesn’t matter who scores.
Whether it’s McInerney, Sebastien Le Toux, Conor Casey, Antoine Hoppenot or anyone else, the goal is to win.
“Of course, I’m playing right now and that’s great, but the ultimate is winning,” McInerney said. “All of us are working hard in training. If Seba gets five goals in a row, I’ll be happy for him and I know it’ll be great because we’re likely winning. We’re all pulling for each other. We’re all fitting into our roles now and at some point, someone is likely to go down. The rest of us will have to step up and we know that.
“I think it’s a very good situation all the way around because of our relationship together.”
Continuing with Saturday’s matchup against Toronto FC, McInerney will continue preparing like he always has. He’s not feeling any pressure.
“Coach Hack and the staff just tell us to relax and play our game,” McInerney said. “I know my job is to score. I don’t feel pressure. I’m just doing what I’ve been doing. I’ve had some chances I know I could have finished. I’m going to keep working hard and I know those chances will be there for me and my teammates.”
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org