CHESTER, Pa. — Prior to this past weekend, 13 different players had scored a goal for the Philadelphia Union – an impressive feat for a team that had very little scoring balance last season.
There was, however, one mystifying omission from that list: natural goal-scorer Jack McInerney.
Last Saturday against Houston, McInerney made sure he changed that when he became the 14th Union player to find the back of the net, beating Dynamo 'keeper Tally Hall early in the first half of an eventual 1-1 draw at PPL Park.
“For him to get a start and for him, with his first chance, to score a goal is fantastic,” Union assistant coach John Hackworth said. “Maybe this is yet another young guy who can come on and do that for us.”
McInerney, who turned 19 years old the day before opening his 2011 scoring account, has only drawn four starts this season, playing a total of 376 minutes.
But the seventh overall pick of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft did more with less last season, scoring three times in just 350 minutes and adding another goal in a friendly against Mexican power Chivas de Guadalajara.
For the 19-year-old, getting his first goal of the 2011 campaign was a long-time coming.
“It felt good to finally get it over with,” McInerney said. “Now I can hopefully score a couple of more goals this season.”
The second-year striker could have actually had more in the same game, but was called offside after putting the ball into the back of the net a few minutes after his first goal. Later, he couldn’t convert an acrobatic volley attempt.
“He’s definitely the type of player [that] you never know how he’s gonna score,” Union midfielder Justin Mapp said. “You saw [Saturday] his creative opportunities and how he has a nose for the goal. We see that every day in practice.”
Even when he’s not scoring, McInerney still brings an excitement to the attack that does not go unnoticed by the fans. The only thing the talented striker needed was just a little more assurance – which he got Saturday.
“With his birthday, it was a pretty special first one,” Mapp said. “He’s a young player, so goals like that will give him a lot of confidence and will go a long way. I’m really happy for him and I’m sure there will be more to come.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.