All it took was one great pass and a moment of brilliance from Jack McInerney.
Philadelphia's thriving young striker scored his seventh goal of the season on Saturday, giving his team a 1-0 victory in Chicago and reclaiming the top spot in the race for the Golden Boot.
After the game, manager John Hackworth was asked if he was surprised by his star forward's goal-scoring form.
“No. I don't want to sound cocky, but no I'm not,” Hackworth said. “He's an excellent goal scorer. He's developing, and we saw last year that he was capable of this kind of season.”
McInerney's goal came in the 75th minute, when the Union earned a free kick just inside the Chicago half. Substitute Sebastien Le Toux quickly hit a floated ball into the box, which fell perfectly to the 20-year old. McInerney settled expertly with one touch, then used his second touch to scrape the ball past goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
“Someone got fouled, and I was up (near) the backline,” explained McInerney. “Seba put a great ball on my foot and I was able to touch it. Sean came out, and I was able to put it by him.”
Chicago enjoyed the bulk of possession, out-shooting the Union 15-9 on the afternoon. It was goalkeeper Zac MacMath who kept Philadelphia in the game, turning aside six shots, including a point blank save on Daniel Paladini in the first half.
“That's usually how it is on the road in this league,” said McInerney. “You've just got to battle, and if you can hold a zero in the back, anything can happen. Credit Zac and our back four. They did a great job today. I feel like we haven't really clicked offensively from the midfield to the strikers. But, if I get one, all I need is one or two chances a game and that will happen.”
The goal was McInerney's fitth on the road. He's now scored 15 goals in 30 appearances since Hackworth took over for Peter Nowak last June.
The Union improved their road record to 3-2-1 and have now earned 10 of 15 points away from PPL Park this year.
“He's playing at a very high level right now and the thing that I'm most pleased with is that he continues to try to play the game the same way,” Hackworth added. “He hasn't let anything affect him and he's had a lot of attention in the last month. Good for him that he's keeping his feet on the ground and continuing week in and week out to play well.”
Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at firstname.lastname@example.org