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The PSP talks to Jack McInerney

Pop quiz, hot shot: Which Union player had the most goals per minutes played?

Rarely is an answer about the offense not Le Toux, but this is the rare exception. In only 350 minutes, Jack McInerney had 3 goals in 2010. The young super-sub never felt the shower of praise that fell on overall number one pick Danny Mwanga, but he always showed the engine and passion that sometimes went missing from Mwanga’s game.

It is not fair to compare McInerney to any other player, though. He’s still growing into his game and his body.

“I don’t feel extra pressure to play hard because I’m younger. Definitely I put pressure on myself, though,” McInerney said, “It’s still fun all the time though, a whole lot of fun. I would be doing it if it wasn’t.”

Justin Mapp and some other guy celebrate with Mac Attack after his goal against the Revs

McInerney is only 5’9″ and 150 pounds. But perhaps this is a blessing in disguise: he will never be mistaken for the traditional center striker (see: Mwanga), and has had to adapt and develop his skill set as his role on the Union is fleshed out.

The Kid was at his best in 2010 when he timed his run well and darted through a lane to receive a through ball. If you saw one of those moments of genius, you know what I mean. If you didn’t, just understand that it was well beyond the offensive acuity on display in the opening match of this 2010 MLS season between LA and Seattle.

Surprisingly, McInerney says he held the ball and played with his back to goal before he hit the pro level. “I don’t think I have a style yet. I’ve been working on beating people and finishing. Coming in from the outside,” he explained.

He has come to understand that the life of a super-sub is neither easy or consistent. He has to work hard and grow his game if he wants to keep getting that late game call from Nowak. “It’s tough to get a rhythm. Peter [Nowak] says what he wants and it helps you, but you have such little time to adapt to the game.”

In the future, McInerney doesn’t want to get the late call at all—he wants to be on the pitch from the start. The goal for any player is to improve each year. This season, there is acute pressure on McInerney, as the Union brought a number of talented strikers into the fold. Chris Agorsor was every bit the stud prospect that Jack Mac is now and Carlos Ruiz has an MLS MVP award on the shelf.

To stay on the coach’s radar and ensure that the supply of minutes doesn’t dwindle, McInerney put in the work before preseason so he would be ready when team training began.

“Last year it seemed like it was all about fitness,” he said, “This year is calmer leading into the season. [The Union] have an advantage going into the season because other teams haven’t seen us and don’t know what we’ll do.”

While it is true that the team has managed to carefully mete out information about preseason, it also means the players will run into an MLS opponent for the first time in 2011 when they arrive in Houston.

Looking at the Dynamo, McInerney understands what the Union is up against.

“They’re a fast team. Lots of dribblers. And we worked on set pieces all week in practice to prepare for them.”

While Jack Mac clearly meant that the team worked on defending free kicks, he did add that being an offensive player on a set piece “is like boxing. It’s just fighting chaos in the box.”

The talented striker should get his chance to fight the chaos on Saturday.

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