McInerney on double-digit goal aim in '13: "Not a problem"

Before heading back to his native Atlanta for the offseason, Philadelphia Union striker Jack McInerney met with manager John Hackworth to discuss expectations for 2013.

Considering McInerney scored eight goals while playing in roughly half of the team’s possible minutes this year, the 20-year-old was fully expecting Hackworth to tell him that 15-20 goals would be the objective for next season.

So when the manager told him he was hoping to get between 10 and 15 goals from him, McInerney thought one thing: no doubt.

“When he first said it, I thought it would be higher,” McInerney told MLSsoccer.com in a phone interview. “I had eight this year and only played in about half of the games – and I went seven straight games without scoring. So I think that’s not a problem.”

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The confidence McInerney has in his own scoring ability is certainly a good thing for a Union team that ranked just 15th in MLS in goals this year. And rather than feeling jilted over the fact that Hackworth has said he’s looking to acquire a high-profile striker this offseason, McInerney said he’s excited for the opportunity.

Instead of sticking with a 4-3-3 or a 4-5-1, McInerney believes Hackworth will go with a 4-4-2 in 2013 and start him up top next to the new acquisition. That would allow McInerney to do what he does best: poach a whole lot of goals.

“I kind of did that role this year even though we didn’t have that big, physical player like every other team has,” said McInerney, who became a starter as soon as Hackworth replaced former manager Peter Nowak in mid-June. “If that’s the player they go get in the offseason, I think it will be that much easier for me.”

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McInerney isn’t sure which striker the Union will end up signing. But in his meeting with Hackworth, he made his preference known of what kind of player he’d like to partner with up top.

“I said a player like [New York Red Bulls striker Kenny] Cooper,” McInerney said. “Someone who’s big, good with his feet and who’s a team player who’s not going to make it all about himself.”

How about Cooper himself?

“Yeah, why not?” McInerney said. “I think he’d be great.”

Whoever the Union end up bringing in, McInerney knows there will still be a lot of pressure on him to find the back of the net. The fact that he’s in the last year of his contract and may lose his Generation adidas status will only add to that pressure.

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But it’s not something that’s bothering the 20-year-old striker, who will spend the next couple of months resting in Atlanta before going into what will be one of the most exciting preseasons of his career.

“I definitely would like to have a good year and then sign a new deal [with the Union],” McInerney said. “There’s a little pressure on me but I feel like if I go out there and do what I do, I’ll be all right.”

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at djzeitlin@gmail.com.