Jack McInerney’s fourth season in Major League Soccer was a rousing success.
It was also a learning experience.
There were highs of scoring 12 goals, earning a call-up to the CONCACAF Gold Cup and being named an MLS All-Star. There were teaching moments and mental challenges through a scoreless drought late in the season.
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He’s mentally and physically stronger than ever before. He’s excited for the 2014 season, especially with all the additions to the roster.
Entering his fifth season, McInerney believes he’s ready for any challenge that awaits.
“Absolutely, that’s the case,” McInerney said after a recent training session. “I feel like I’ve experienced quite a bit in my time in the league. Last year was good because I went through the whole season and learned a lot about myself. It was good in many ways. In a long season, there are always going to be challenges. I felt like my game improved and I know there are so many things I can improve upon.
“I kept working hard in the offseason and spent a lot of time training on the field and off the field. I’m looking forward to this season with all the changes to the club. I feel like we’re going to be very good and I’m very excited for the new season.”
McInerney kept a close eye on the MLS Cup playoffs.
He was hoping to compete in the postseason with the Union but the club narrowly missed out on making it.
When the Union open the 2014 season in Portland against the Timbers, earning a playoff spot will clearly be a major long-term goal.
“Of course, we all want to be in the playoffs,” McInerney said. “We have to stay consistent through the season and the Technical Staff talks to us all the time about that. We have to treat each game one at a time. It’s true. We have to take each game s it comes and go from there. You can’t look too far down the road. To work as hard as we do beginning in preseason training, of course you have to have goals like that. The work that we put in now will pay off down the stretch of the season.”
McInerney and Conor Casey became quite a formidable duo last season and they plan on repeating the feat this season.
The chemistry that was formed last season surely will remain the same.
“I thought Jack was great last season,” Casey said. “I thought we played well together and knew each others’ tendencies. The longer you play with someone, the better off you’ll be. I think we both improved as the season went on. Jack is tough around the net and knows how to finish. Every year of experience helps and I think he’s going to have a great season again.”
McInerney is most concerned with the club’s success.
He’d sacrifice some goals if the Union win more games. That’s how McInerney is wired.
“If we get more points and get to the playoffs and other guys score, that’s good with me,” said McInerney, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. “I just want us to win and compile points. If I’m consistent and we’re consistent as a club, it will all work out in the end. The coaches talk about consistency a lot. If Conor scores or Seba (Sebastien Le Toux) scores, I’m happy. I just want to win as many games as possible.”
McInerney is training now like he’s in postseason form. So are his teammates. It’s obvious that they’re determined to make a major push this season.
“Jack is a very competitive guy just like me,” said defender Sheanon Williams. “I love it that he’s going hard all the time. I’m the same way. We all are. The training sessions have been very competitive and you can see guys have something to prove after last season. I think that type of work ethic is great and Jack looks great out there.”
McInerney became a fan favorite last season and can’t wait to get back playing in front of the home crowd at PPL Park.
“I’m ready now,” McInerney said. “It’s going to be an exciting season as I said. Our fans are the best and we’re determined to show them what we can do.”
What do you think McInerney will do this season? Leave a comment below.
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org