Union's McInerney goes from forgotten to star
CHESTER, Pa. – It took just eight games and fewer than two months for Union striker Jack McInerney to go from forgotten prospect to the team’s most valuable offensive player.
And despite the pressure that brings, McInerney wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Goal scorers get all the money and all the glory,” said a smiling McInerney, who turns 20 on Aug. 5. “I’ll take that every time.”
McInerney isn’t just a cog in the Union’s offensive machine – he’s the point man. The third-year player started seven of the team’s eight games since coach John Hackworth took over the team on June 13. Since then, McInerney has rewarded his coach, scoring four goals, good for second on the Union behind Lionard Pajoy and Gabriel Gomez, who have five apiece.
“It’s going well, we’ve scored a lot of goals lately and creating a lot of chances,” said McInerney, who is preparing to face the Montreal Impact at Saputo Stadium on Saturday. “We’re clicking. We’re playing well and scoring goals, it’s good.”
However, his most poignant score came in extra time against the New England Revolution on Sunday. With a crisp header off a lofty cross from Sheanon Williams, McInerney gave his team the 2-1 win. The heroics came after he helped tie the game by earning an in-box foul which resulted in a Freddy Adu penalty kick goal.
The contest was a display of evolution from McInerney, who is transforming from a pleasant surprise to a go-to scorer. And like any primary producer, McInerney isn’t satisfied with one goal in one game. He wants more.
“I scored three goals right away then went three, four games without one,” McInerney said, while lamenting his inconsistency. “Being the forward, you’re expected to score and carry the team. There is definitely some pressure but I was able to get one last game and hopefully start to put another streak together.”
Considered an outsider by the Peter Nowak regime, McInerney flailed in the system. He was passed over during multiple roster selections and could only watch as the team acquired offensive players to stand between him and playing time. But when Hackworth was handed the interim head coaching position, McInerney was given his chance.
He hasn’t looked back.
“We’re happy for him and hope he continues to evolve as a player and as a really important player for this team,” said Hackworth, whose club has scored 14 goals in its last eight games.
But despite the strides McInerney has made, he isn’t perfect. Hackworth continues to look for more from his most profitable coaching decision.
“Your center forward should be the guy you lean on to put one in the back of the net when you need it,” Hackworth said. “McInerney had a good game the other night but in other areas, he wasn’t as sharp as we’ve seen him previously. But that’s what goal-scorers do, they stick around.”E-mail Ryan Bright at RyanBright@gmail.com