Player of the Week

Player of the Week: Jack McInerney

Photo: Mike Long

It’s been a while.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and for strikers, the longer they’ve been without a goal, the nicer it is to score one, that’s for sure. For Jack McInerney, it had been 14 games since his last goal. That one came way back on June 1, nearly four-and-a-half months ago.

At first, it seemed like Jack’s call-up to the USMNT had put his rhythm off. Then, there was no denying he was in a slump. There were the benchings and substitutions, all attempts by John Hackworth to find the magic formula that would get Jack’s scoring touch back.

Nothing worked.

For the Union, Jack’s lack of goals wasn’t initially a problem. A resurgent Conor Casey saw Jack’s lack of production and filled up the stat sheet on his own, eventually matching Jack’s ten goals. But then, Casey dried up in front of net, too. The whole Union team did, scoring only three goals in the last seven games. Improbable wins against Sporting KC and Toronto had arrested Philly’s sagging playoff campaign, but after Nick DeLeon put lowly DC United ahead, the Union’s season was on the brink. Not getting the win would have been bad enough, but failing to get even a point would have been a death sentence.

Jack McInerney didn’t warrant a start. Antoine Hoppenot came into the game before him. But in the 73rd minute, Hackworth used his final substitution to bring on Jack Mac, to see if he could save the Union’s season.

For more than 15 minutes, it seemed like Jack’s slump would continue. Getting the ball inside the DC box in the 83rd minute, a dynamite save by DC’s Bill Hamid denied McInerney what seemed a golden opportunity, and what would surely be the best chance remaining in the game.

But then, with regular time completed, a Union corner was swung in by new hero Kléberson. DC cleared, but Kléberson was there to pick up the loose ball and serve in another cross. (And can we note that this game-saving cross came from Kléberson’s weaker foot? There’s no substitute for quality.) The ball cleared the big bodies clustered around the front post, and dipped at the back post where McInerney was there to power a header down and in.

Cue the wild celebrations.

McInerney’s play in the preceding weeks had actually been quite good. Almost throughout his drought, in fact, his build up play has been good, while his final ball was too slow, or inaccurate, or lacking conviction. He’d even missed easy headers, lest we forget.

But on Saturday night, with the Union’s season foundering — again — McInerney stepped up. The service from Kléberson was very fine, and McInerney didn’t think twice.

He just finished.

It might not be enough. The Union may still miss the playoffs. But Jack McInerney gave them a chance. And if he can follow up that drought-breaker with a few more goals in the final two games? Well, anything’s possible. That’s why he’s PSP’s Player of the Week.

5 Comments

  1. Also congratulations To Jack MacInerny for making to the cover of Farmers Tan monthly with his pasty chest brown arm combo.

  2. OneManWolfpack says:

    For that cross and treat cross alone…. PLAY KLEBERSON.
    .
    Solid finish by Mac though. Hopefully he finishes strong.

  3. Mac is up for goal of the week on MLS’s site.

  4. WilkersonMcLaser says:

    So, Jack’s play in the past few weeks have been good, but he didn’t warrant a start? This seems a very generous nod to Hack’s bizarre tactical decisions.
    .
    Also: there’s a reason why a heap of Jack Mac’s goals come in the latter stages of the game. Hack’s habit of pulling him at the 60th minute or so not only destroyed that element of his game, but bullied his confidence as well.

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