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Season review: Jack McInerney

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Editor’s note: At the end of the 2010 season, we posted a series of season reviews of every Philadelphia Union player. Over the next several weeks PSP continues with a review of the 2011 season.

It was a disappointing second year for Jack McInerney.

After a promising rookie year, in which the first round draft pick scored three goals in just 350 minutes of play, McInerney had to be looking forward to his second season.

Then Carlos Ruiz showed up and booted Mac down the depth chart.

In the end, McInerney ended up getting only a bit more playing time than in 2010 and scoring just one goal. He even got red-carded thanks to a wildly unfair call by a ref.

When he played, his performances were uneven. One game, he’d be brilliant and explosive, finding gaps in the defense and putting shots on net. The next, he’d disappear, with only a few touches, or muff an opportunity right in front of goal. Either way, his playing time was inconsistent, and he never developed a game-to-game rhythm.  His potential continued to tantalize, but he couldn’t crack the lineup with any permanency.

Then Philadelphia Union signed Josue Martinez this month and set off an off-season of uncertainty for McInerney, who’s entirely too talented to be forgotten.

High point

His terrific game against Houston in August. McInerney scored one goal, had a second erased by the refs, and sent a bicycle kick just over the crossbar. In one game, he showed all the brilliance that prompted the Union to pick him in the first place. The game highlights were pretty much owned by Union Jack. Games like this make you envision greatness for McInerney.

Low point

September. That monster game against Houston earned him only one more start before he went back to the bench. He appeared in only four of the Union’s final 10 games, and one of those appearances was just a four-minute cameo. That had to be demoralizing.

On the other hand, it’s possible an even lower point was the moment Ruiz signed with the Union and pushed McInerney down the depth chart. But, we’ve been through that before.

Strengths

His daring. McInerney has a poacher’s mentality. He sees the goal. He goes for it. And he’ll do so in all sorts of ways, from bicycle kicks to blasts from the outside, typically without fear or hesitation. He’s still figuring out many of the little things, but the basic concept of “Take ball, put ball in net” is pretty clear to the teenage striker. Now if he could just get more touches.

Weaknesses

The knock on him had been his size, at just 5-8 and maybe 150. The league now lists him at 5-10, so he apparently grew, but he had so little time on the field this year that it was hard to tell. He isn’t a physical presence yet. Maybe that will come in time, but the way things have gone for him, playing time has been entirely too scarce.

Outlook

The acquisition of 21-year-old Costa Rican striker Josue Martinez doesn’t bode well for McInerney. But it would be even worse for him if the Union acquire a veteran target striker. Clearly, Martinez and McInerney will compete for minutes, and considering the transfer fee, Martinez could come in with the upper hand. Still, Martinez and McInerney are both young, and McInerney has the talent to outplay almost any striker in Major League Soccer.

That’s right. That’s how much potential he has. The question is whether he’ll ever get to fully capitalize on it. Strikers need confidence, and McInerney may have had that damaged a bit early on. Union manager Peter Nowak has yet to really show enough faith in McInerney and fellow striker Danny Mwanga to instill in them the confidence that they won’t go right back to the bench after one mediocre game. Then again, have they earned that yet?

Year 3 will be a big one for McInerney. He’s still just 19 years old. If he gets enough time, he could blossom into a Chicarito type. If he can’t get regular playing time in 2012, however, he may just choose to play out his rookie contract (they’re typically four years long in MLS) and try to move to a lower tier foreign league to get regular time. He’ll never capitalize on all that talent rusting away on the Union’s bench.

Stat chart legend:
POS: Position; GP: Games Played; GS: Games Started; MINS: Minutes; PA: Passes Attempted; PC: Passes Completed; P%: Passing Accuracy Percentage; SHTS: Shots Faced; SV: Saves; GA: Goals Allowed; GAA: Goals Allowed Average; PKG/A: Penalty Goals/Attempted; W; Wins; L: Losses; T: Ties; ShO: Shutouts; W%: Win Percentage; SV%: Save Percentage; FC: Fouls Committed; FS: Fouls Suffered; YC: Yellow Cards; RC: Red Cards

4 Comments

  1. Free Jack Mac!

  2. I think Jack will be fine. I’m much less worried about him than Mwanga. He makes runs that a veteran would make. Not too many 19 year-olds get a ton of first team action, anyways. I’d give him another 2 seasons til he really makes an impact on the team.

  3. Jack is fantastic. A total star in the making. hes wise beyond his years and has a real presence and maturity that few could have in his position. WHile hes had some setbacks, his personal resolve will keep his head right where he needs it. Keeep it up Mack

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