Jack McInerney insists he wanted to stay with Philadelpia Union

Manager John Hackworth said the reason the Philadelphia Union traded Jack McInerney was because the team had “evolved” and that Friday’s deal with the Montreal Impact for Andrew Wenger put them in a “better overall position long-term.”

McInerney was surprised to hear as much, because he didn’t expect that evolution to come without him. And he certainly never got the sense he wasn’t a part of the team’s long-term plans.

“I definitely wanted to be here,” McInerney told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Saturday, one day after the blockbuster trade. “I’ve been here since the beginning. I’ve grown to know the city and love the city and fans. It’s pretty sad for me and disappointing.”

One of the only remaining players with the Union since their expansion season in 2010, McInerney had grown into one of the league’s most promising young talents along with fellow 2010 SuperDraft pick Amobi Okugo.

Last season, McInerney led the team in scoring with 12 goals while Okugo played virtually every minute at center back, leading McInerney to believe that “me and him were probably going to be the go-to guys for as long as could be.”

But Hackworth decided to pull the plug on the McInerney in part because the 21-year-old striker was nearing the end of his contract.

When asked if he would have been open to re-signing with Philly, McInerney said “for sure,” and batted down rumors he wished to go elsewhere.

“People were saying that but I was asked if I had the opportunity to go to Europe and I said I would consider it,” McInerney said. “I didn’t say that was something I was going to do. I was happy here in Philly. I didn’t want anything to change at that point.”

McInerney also shot down the rumors that he may have rubbed some teammates the wrong way with his body language during games, saying that “no one has ever said anything to me” and “that’s just kind of how I am on the field.”

And as for the idea that Wenger will fit better into the team’s new lineup and 4-3-3 formation, McInerney felt that the relationship with his new teammates was “just starting to click” and that the goals “would have come soon.”

“I thought it was going well,” he said. “I thought personally for me I was playing well and I thought the team was doing good for as many additions as we had and the changes that were made in the offseason.”

Despite some bitter feelings, McInerney is still happy about his time in Philadelphia. He pointed to the franchise’s first-ever game in Seattle in 2010 and the time he jumped into the crowd after scoring against New England in 2012 as his favorite moments, and said that he loved how the “whole club is like family.”

And even though he’s going to “want to prove they made a big mistake” when he plays against the Union in three weeks, he’ll always have a place in his heart for the franchise that gave him his professional start.

“Obviously no player is going to play for the Union forever,” McInerney said. “Careers end at some point. It’s how it goes sometimes. I’ll look back on it and always feel like a part of the organization.”

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at djzeitlin@gmail.com.